Scholar in Residence: John Dunn

This week, SMUS had the honour of welcoming John Dunn, a wilderness explorer and National Geographic photographer who has made more than a dozen expeditions to the arctic. Mr. Dunn presented a series of four lectures entitled the “Wild Side” to students in both Middle and Senior Schools. Mr. Dunn discussed topics such as the spirit of adventure, the value of proper planning, the feeling of satisfaction after tackling challenges, creativity, and teamwork. He also spoke about the geography of the arctic, climate change and global warming.

Mr. Dunn travels world-wide presenting his adventures in a multi-media format to students of all ages. He aims to go beyond strong images and entertaining video clips from his expeditions and provide academic components on geography, history, environment and climate.

Originally from England, Mr. Dunn spent many years working in the Australian outback before he became fascinated with Canada’s high north and explored Baffin Island and Devon Island. His lecture focused on his expedition to Devon Island, the world’s largest uninhabited island and one of the few places where a person can ski next to the ocean.

Mr. Dunn talked in depth about his trip through the North-West Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of North America which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Arctic pack ice prevents regular marine shipping throughout the year, but because climate change is causing the ice to shrink, the waterway may eventually be useable.

All of Mr. Dunn’s expeditions are human powered, meaning once he leaves the Twin Otter float planes that drop him off in the arctic, all travel is done by kayaking, sledding, hiking and skiing.

Mr. Dunn described in vivid detail the harsh conditions and constant weather changes he has faced. “Some of the best days in an expedition are when Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse, because it sure makes you feel powerful conquering the elements,” explains Mr. Dunn.

Students said they thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, and were especially taken in by his magnificent photo collections. Mr. Dunn will continue on his West Coast lecture series, visiting five other schools before the end of the month.

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