About the Quest for Antarctica Course

This unique learning opportunity was developed through a partnership between Quest University Canada, based in Squamish, B.C., Canada, and is supported by Quark Expeditions. It is taught by Colin Bates, a faculty tutor at Quest, and former polar expedition guide and videographer.


There are 12 students in the class, which runs from March 2nd to March 17th, 2020. We start with an exploration of the human relationship with Antarctica. We learn about the early explorers and move into the heroic age of exploration. We discuss what it means to be an explorer in the day and age of Google Earth. Are we explorers? We then move onto more contemporary matters, examining the Antarctic Treaty. Finally, we delve into the science of Antarctica.


We will spend 11 days aboard the Ocean Endeavor. We leave from Ushuaia, Argentina, and will endure the 2-day traverse of the Drake Passage (the roughest seas in the world!). Then we spend 10 days exploring the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. We will be working with some of the most knowledgeable expedition guides in the industry, and our progress will be dictated by Mother Nature herself. Adventure and learning await!

Academically, each student will be working on a focus topic that they will present to the class and other passengers on the ship. There will be a substantial ‘creative reflection’ project, a proposal to establish a Canadian Antarctic Research Station, a shipboard task-list, and of course, blog entries. We are reading two books (Endurance by Alfred Lansing, and the Crystal Desert by David Campbell. We will also read other primary literature and student-chosen focus papers for discussion on the ship. There will be a series of onboard lectures by the shipboard experts, and of course we will revel in the unpredictable and intangible experiences that inevitably occur on an expedition like this.


We set sail in search of new insights and perspectives on the unknown territory that is Antarctica.