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Polar extremes

Future of Arctic and Antarctic poles under irreversible threat

Polar regions are increasingly at the centre of environmental, geo-political and cultural shifts, but it has now become imperative to protect these pristine wilderness areas from catastrophic change.

Event details
Date and time:
Tuesday 6 August, 6 – 7.30pm
Venue: SSB Lecture Theatre 200
Social Sciences Building
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations essential.

The poles have become a striking focus for observing and understanding environmental change in recent times. Global warming is melting glaciers across the world at an alarming rate, and experts warn that humans have only 12 years to take action to avert devastating and irreversible climate change. This change could include the extinction of unique species such as polar bears, who won't be able to adapt if their habitat disappears.

At the same time human exploitation of the polar regions presents us with a changing theatre of geo-politics, particularly when ships are ploughing new routes through melting ice floes. The prospect of warming polar regions is generating fresh interest – and concern – about new industrial and military applications for the poles. 

The Antarctic Treaty System – a bundle of international agreements that regulate the Antarctic region – has taken on a new significance as a model for cooperative international action. Firmly established images of the poles as pristine wilderness areas have been called into question, forcing humans to rethink their relationship to the Arctic and Antarctic through literature, media, and culture.

This panel will discuss how our relationship with the polar regions has changed in the 21st century and what the polar regions reveal about the broader environmental challenges facing the world today, as we collectively combat climate change and unpack its deeper implications.

The speakers

Elizabeth is Professor of English at the University of Tasmania and an ARC Future Fellow. She is studying the passion for literature that the hostile continent of Antarctica evokes, and the power in turn of literature to influence what we think and feel about Antarctica. Her work highlights the need for a presence of the humanities as well as the sciences in Antarctic research.

Tim is Professor of International Law and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Sydney. He is President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law. Tim teaches and researches in public international law, with his published work focusing on the international law of the sea, international environmental law and international dispute settlement. His major works include The International Law of the Sea (Hart, 2nd edition, 2016), with Donald R Rothwell, and International Courts and Environmental Protection (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

His ARC Future Fellowship research project is examining the implications of the Anthropocene for international law. Tim has a PhD in law from the University of Sydney, a Master of Philosophy in geography from the University of Cambridge, and a BA and LLB (both with honours) from the University of Sydney. He is admitted as a legal practitioner in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Rohan is a Junior Research Fellow in the Laureate Program in International History at the University. 

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Simply click the 'Register now' button or follow this link.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first-in, best-dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 30 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

This venue provides wheelchair access, hearing loop and infrared hearing system.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email with 'Access | August 6 – Polar extremes' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us time to organise for any additional services in time for the event.

This event takes place at SSB Lecture Theatre 200, which is on Level 2 of the Social Sciences Building (enter via Science Road). 

There will be directional signage on the day leading to the theatre. You may also refer to the map on this page. 

Public Transport

To help you plan your trip, visit


The venue is roughly 30 minutes walk from Redfern station. Catch a train to Redfern station and take Lawson Street up to Abercrombie Street. At the roundabout, follow Codrington Street up to Butlin Avenue. Follow Butlin Avenue through to the campus and up Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle and turn into Science Road. Keep walking along there – the venue will be on the right.


Buses to the University are readily available from Railway Square, Central Station (Broadway). Please use campus maps tool and tick the ‘State transit bus stops’ box under the ‘Amenities’ column to view all possible bus stops.

  • via Parramatta Road: Take one of these buses: 412, 436, 438, 439, 440, 461, 480, 483, m10, L38 or L39 and alight at the Footbridge on Parramatta Road. It's roughly 5 minute walk to venue.
  • via City Road: Take one of these buses: 352, 370, 422, 423, 426, 428, m30, L23 or L28 and alight at the footbridge before Butlin Avenue. Cross the road or go across the bridge and take Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle, and turn into Science Road. It's roughly a 12-minute walk to the venue.

There is some on-street parking around Forest Lodge and Glebe.

There is also paid parking available at Western Avenue Carpark. Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search for the 'Social Sciences Building'. 

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