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  • Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

    Received by email (and edited a bit):

    I am an ex-Fid; I was a G/A at Rothera from 1980 ? 1981 and then again from 1983 ? 1986. I am now a fisheries scientist in Australia and a part-time PhD student at the University of Melbourne.

    My thesis is on wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica, the origins
    of which lie in the Madrid Protocol and the requirement to protect these
    values. I am working closely with the Australian Antarctic Division where
    I used to work some time ago. I was wondering whether you could help me advertise a survey I am running for my PhD research? The aim of the survey is to test a series of hypotheses about aesthetic responses and the assessment of wilderness. The survey is on a University of Melbourne website at:

    It comprises a series of 30 scenes of Antarctic landscapes and, for each scene, you are asked to give your aesthetic preference rating, decide whether you think the scene represents wilderness and provide a suitability rating for four adjectives. You are also asked for some brief demographic details. The survey is anonymous and it has been approved by the University?s human research ethics committee. I estimate that the survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. I would be very pleased if you could participate in the survey and I wondered whether you might possibly put up a link to it on your website?

    So far I have had 242 responses from around the world but I am aiming for

    I hope very much that you will participate and will be able to help.
    Thanks very much. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards

    Rupert Summerson
    PhD Candidate
    The University of Melbourne

  • #2
    Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

    I've all ready completed it, Paul. I found it a bit frustrating as often none of the aesthetic 'vocabulary' seemed appropriate to me! Still, an interesting exercise and I'd be intrigued to see what the degree of differentiation is between those who have actually visited Antarctica and those who haven't, if any.



    • #3
      Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

      I did it after you sent me the link Drummy and then deleted it, thought I'd add it when Rupert emailed me about it.

      I agree with your comment on the vocabulary, makes me wonder what the required outcome is, i.e. what he's trying to differentiate between.

      I suppose we are rather more subtle in our preferences for the kind of snow and ice / I wouldn't have got the grip from there myself / I'd have come back when there was more snow cover etc. etc. than the average.


      • #4
        Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

        Hi Paul,
        I certainly agree. There were shots where the descriptors were all more or less superlatives which I thought were pretty rubbish grips.

        I don't think I gave top marks to more than 3 photos! He should have come on here and used some of the stunning photos you have in the galleries.



        • #5
          Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

          From Rupert via email

          The overall purpose of the research is to compile definitions wilderness and aesthetic value. The Madrid Protocol calls for the protection of the wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica, but doesn't define what those values are, nor how they should be protected. Even before defining wilderness and aesthetic values, it is first necessary to define what wilderness is, in the Antarctic context, and aesthetics, which is open to a very wide variety of interpretations.

          The purpose of the aesthetic descriptors is to get some more detail about what respondents like or dislike about the scene. A 1 - 7 aesthetic reference scale doesn't give much away! When you think about the way we communicate aesthetic preference is with words - but, as an aside, it is interesting how often words are not up to the task. The technique I am using is called semantic differential, except that I am using the technique in a non-standard way. The four words presented are taken randomly from a list of 20 which I compiled from adjectives used in the Antarctic literature and from field hut logs (with two exceptions that I added). I chose the semantic differential approach rather than, for example, a free text response so that I can convert the responses to numbers and analyse the results statistically. There is another reason that I would rather not go into for fear of biasing the results. I will be presenting some of the results at the IPY conference in Oslo in June.

          All the best


          • #6
            Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

            Hi Rupert, I filled out yer survey, and when finished I got a confirmation note of appreciation and all, but the bottom line read:
            ERROR! Could not load data to the database...I hope that doesn't mean my input was lost...


            • #7
              Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

              Hi Fast Eddie. Thanks very much for taking the time to do the survey and especially for alerting me to the database problem. Unfortunately there is no way to tell if your results have been logged because the survey is anonymous. I have sent a message to the website administrator to look into it. I will post a message here to let everyone know if there is a problem and when it will be fixed. Thanks again. Rupert


              • #8
                Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

                Rupert, I could set up a survey on my site, and you can administer it (the survey), check the results etc... if youo want. Just send me a PM here.


                • #9
                  Re: Survey of wilderness and aesthetic values of Antarctica

                  Hi Flighter

                  Thanks very much for the offer but the problem has been fixed. There are number of complications about moving it but the main one is that it is for my PhD and so needs to be +/- under the control of the University of Melbourne. I only need about another 20-25 responses so could I urge anyone who is interested to give the survey a go. The address is: and it is about perceptions of wilderness and aesthetic values in Antarctica. Thank you. Rupert