The Alps

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Alps

Hike your way through breathtaking terrain while digging into earth and environmental sciences.

Early admission deadline:Monday, January 15, 2018
Rolling admissions continue until the program reaches capacity
Final application deadline:Friday, March 30, 2018

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This 12-day program introduces you to the nature, culture, history and languages of the European Alps in Switzerland and Italy. We explore the geology of the Alps and how it influences the development of wildlife, flora, history, religion, culture and entire regions. We also investigate how humans have altered the environment and how we respond to climate change in Alpine ecosystems.

We do this all by observing nature in a spectacular landscape, visiting cultural sites off the beaten track and engaging with urban centers, such as the city of Zurich. We get our hands dirty at historical and modern stone quarries (guided by local experts); take in geological monuments (Bergell, Ticino, Rhine Canyon); visit important cultural sites (UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bellinzona and Rhätische Bahn, Church of Zillis–"Sistine of the Alps"); hike across mountains, glaciers and rock glaciers; study plants and wildlife; and learn about local culture and languages.

Bring your hiking boots! Physical fitness is required as we hike several hours on most days on clearly marked mountain paths. Dr. Reto Gieré, the Program Director, is an experienced mountain climber and trekker trained in first aid.

Join us for an information session to learn more about the program:

  • Monday, October 30 at 5 p.m. at Williams Hall, Room 24
  • Wednesday, November 15 at 5 p.m. at Williams Hall, Room 214
Saturday, August 11, 2018 Recommended arrival in Zurich
Saturday, August 11, 2018 Program housing first available
Saturday, August 11, 2018
2 p.m.
On-site orientation
Saturday, August 11, 2018
2 p.m.
Classes start
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
7 p.m.
Classes end
Thursday, August 23, 2018 Program housing last checkout date
The Alps

August 11 - Zurich: Meet group at 2 p.m. for on-site orientation, followed by city tour

Study topics: Charlemagne and his influence in the Alpine region; from Roman city to world financial center

Overnight in Zurich, Switzerland

 

The Alps

August 12 - Drive via Ruinalta, Viamala and Zillis to Monte Spluga

Study topics: Rhine canyon and Flims landslide; gorges and Roman roads; language divides; Sistine of the Alps

Overnight in Monte Spluga, Italy

 

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August 13 - DHike through Valle Cardinello and drive to Chiavenna

Study topics: The Alps and their impacts on the Roman, Medieval and modern history of Europe

Overnight in Chiavenna, Italy

 

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August 14 - Chiavenna

Study topics: Strategic position and history of a key town

Overnight in Chiavenna, Italy

 

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August 15 - Drive through the Bergell Valley to the Engadine

Study topics: Bergell culture, people and architecture; continental divide; language divide

Overnight in Pontresina, Switzerland

 

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August 16 - Cog railway to Muottas Muragl and hike to rock glacier

Study subjects: Permafrost; climate change and its effects on mountain villages; farming in extreme environments

Overnight in Pontresina, Switzerland

 

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August 17 - Explore the Engadine, walk to Morteratsch glacier, and climb Munt Pers (3200 m)

Study topics: Traditional architecture; Ice Age; glacial retreat and effects on ecosystems, landscape and culture

Overnight in Pontresina, Switzerland

 

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August 18 - Drive via Bernina Pass, Cavaglia and Poschiavo to Chiareggio

Study topics: Glaciology; glacial geomorphology; history of emigration

Overnight in Chiareggio, Italy

 

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August 19 & 20 - Daily hikes from Chiareggio

Exact program depends on weather conditions, but we will choose from the following activities:

Rifugio del Grande, Vedretta di Vazzeda, Val Sissone
Study topics: Genesis of igneous rocks and effects on surrounding mountains

Val Ventina – Lago Pirola
Study topics: The Earth’s mantle at today’s surface; flora and fauna of the Alps

Quarries and mines in Val Malenco.
Study topics: Importance of stone quarries for the population of the Alps

Overnight in Chiareggio, Italy

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August 21 - Drive through Valtellina and along Lago di Como to Bellinzona

Study topics: Where Africa meets Europe (and the World)

Overnight in Bellinzona, Switzerland

 

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August 22 - Bellinzona and return via Gotthard Pass to Zurich

Study topics: Unesco World Heritage castles; Alpine landscapes; historic trade routes

Overnight in Zurich, Switzerland

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August 23 - Individual departure and return to US

 

All students register for a total of one course unit (c.u.)*. Course offerings are subject to change. Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit the required pre-departure documents.

Penn-in-the-Alps

GEOL 319 (1 c.u.)

Taught by Reto Gieré

In this course, students explore natural phenomena through direct field experience and gain hands-on experience with methods used to study our environment. Students study the geology of the Alps and how it influences the development of wildlife, flora, history, religion, culture and entire regions; how humans have altered the environment; and how humans respond to climate change in Alpine ecosystems. Students prepare presentations on specific topics which are held during the field trip.

Students are housed in various hotels, hostels and mountain cabins.

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.

Tuition and fees for 2018 will be posted in February 2018. 

Contact Information

For details about the program, courses, or location including academic advising, travel dates, housing and orientation:

Reto Gieré

Program Director
Reto Gieré
Professor and Chair, Department of Earth and Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania 
Tel: (215) 898-6907
giere@sas.upenn.edu

For assistance with the application, financial questions, pre-departure or other general information:

Nicola M. Gentili

Penn Summer Abroad Office
College of Liberal & Professional Studies
University of Pennsylvania
3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA, 19104-3335
Tel: (215) 898-7326
summerabroad@sas.upenn.edu

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

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Penn Summer

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326
summer@sas.upenn.edu

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