UT students prepare for arctic expedition

Caroline Cummings

This summer, two UT students are going on an arctic expedition led by the founders of the 2041 Foundation, a climate change mitigation nonprofit.

Government freshman Zoe Lansbury and studio art freshman Oluwaseyi Odufuye will be going on the 12-day expedition, led by explorers Robert and Barney Swan. Lansbury said she wants to get a better understanding of what is happening to the environment through firsthand experiences. 

“I feel like I know a lot (about the environment), but I feel like everything (is) really distant, like its happening somewhere else, not here, so I hope I get a better understanding of it,” Lansbury said.

Lansbury and Odufuye will fly into Norway and travel north to the Arctic Circle. Their expeditions will include trekking over land and snow, kayaking and polar bear watching. 

Lansbury said the Swans’ speech during one of her classes inspired her to go on the expedition, which can cost participants anywhere from $14,000 to $24,000.

“They are really passionate about what they do, and it is really refreshing, because there’s some people in the world who are trying to change things but they don’t actually walk the walk, they just talk the talk,” Lansbury said. “(Robert and Barney) are trying to do it all, and I think that’s really inspiring.”

Odufuye said she decided to go on the trip after she took a undergraduate seminar course on sustainability.


“This expedition provides (me) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only connect with nature but with people from all around the world who share the same passion,” Odufuye said. “I hope to gain connections with leaders from all around the world and use their ideas and experiences as sources of inspiration for my future aspirations.” 

Odufuye said she hopes to use the leadership training the expedition will provide to initiate sustainable changes in her community.

“I want to create an organization that focuses partly on fixing and/or mitigating against sustainability issues in rural communities in Nigeria,” Odufuye said. 

Environmental science freshman Mark DeGraff attended Barney Swan’s recent guest lecture “Arctic 2041: Turning Passion into Action” and said he would opt out of the polar expedition.

“As cool as the trip sounds, I think everyone at the lecture remembers the picture of his frostbitten toes during the Antarctic expedition,” DeGraff said. “There’s a reason that the icecaps remain largely unexplored. They push us to the very edge of survival.”