The academic program has been designed to combine didactic instruction with practical experience and field research. Participants develop skills using well-defined, proven methods, but are called upon to put them into practice under unfamiliar and demanding conditions.
Participants live and work alongside professional researcher, sharing
in their enthusiasm for their careers, and in the successes and
disappointments of each mission. The participants and mentors become equal
partners in the learning process and in the pursuit of knowledge. As a
result, the participants' educational experiences extend far beyond that
found in the conventional classroom. The
educational process becomes relevant as participants and mentors
confer on their discoveries and evaluate knowledge gained about the
research topic in its context.
The learning environment is not contrived; the challenges of living and working in an extreme and sometimes hostile environment stretch the participants--physically, mentally, and emotionally--often beyond their own expectations. Cooperation among participants rather than competition is necessary in conducting meaningful investigations towards achievement of specific educational and research objectives of each mission.