This issue contains contributions from a Prince Charles Mountains workshop and the Selwyn Symposium, held at The University of Melbourne in October 1996. The A.R. Selwyn Lecture, presented by Pat Quilty, raised key questions about the new relationships between scientists and administrators and the way that science is justified and funded. Non-scientists are taking a far greater role in deciding the directions of science and the questions that will be addressed. He highlighted the follies in the current fashion of using the last million years of geological history to understand global change and how this misses the point that much more dramatic changes have occurred in earth history including those recorded in some of Antarctica's older rocks.