Study and explore first-hand the various environments of the Swiss Alps along with their political, economic, and tourism systems.

Alpine EcologyJuly 11 - 26, 2018 
(Arrival Date: July 10 | Departure Date: July 27)

This three-credit course will introduce students to the ecological systems of environments found in the Swiss Alps. The broad goal of this course is to make students familiar with the basics of alpine ecology and geology, and to understand how the Alps are used and managed. Following an interdisciplinary approach, the course will also explore the economic, political, and social aspects of the Swiss Alps. The course will offer several off-campus excursions to local points of interests including the lakes of Ritom and Cadagno in Val Piora, the river Brenno, a visit of Gruyere and an underground lake.

Program Details

The Alpine Ecology program is taught and directed by Dr. Patrick Della Croce, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, with support from a Summer Campus Monitor who will provide assistance to students with respect to living in the residence halls.

Course Schedule
Subject to changes. All changes will be announced in class.

Tuesday, July 10th
All day Arrivals and initial orientation
Wednesday, July 11th
Morning Course introduction and introduction to ecology and evolution
Afternoon With Summer Campus Monitor
Thursday, July 12th
Morning Concepts of food web ecology: introduction to food webs, nutrient cycles, and types of biological interactions (predators, parasites, etc)
  Possible visit to the Laghetto di Muzzano
  Discussion on benefits and challenges of nature reserves in urban landscape
Afternoon Trip to Natural History Museum (Museo di Storia Naturale) in Lugano
  Natural history of Ticino, and discussions on the role of museums and collections
Friday, July 13th
All day Lake ecology and brief history of Ticino
  Boat ride on the Lugano Lake (to Gandria and the Custom Museum)
  Lunch outside
  Walk back to Lugano
Saturday, July 14th
Morning Introduction to Swiss geology, meteorology, and politics (with a specific focus on the Alps)
Afternoon With Summer Campus Monitor; Preparation for field trip
Sunday, July 15th and Monday, July 16th
All day Trip to Val Piora and Lake Cadagno
  Introduction to hydropower, Alpine lake ecology, adaptation to life in the Alps, and Alpine economy
  Overnight in an alpine hut (
Tuesday, July 17th
Morning With Summer Campus Monitor
Afternoon Water quality, pollution and eutrophication (possible visit to waste water plant)
Wednesday, July 18th
All day River and Floodplain ecology
  Day trip to the Brenno River (in Valle di Blenio)
Thursday, July 19th 
All day Understanding fossils and evolution, geological formations, human land use (vineyards, pastures, current and past use of forests etc)
  Field trip to Monte San Giorgio and Museum of fossils
  Boat ride to Brusino and back to Lugano
Friday, July 20th 
Morning With Summer Campus Monitor
Afternoon Chestnuts forests and invasive species: trip to Carona
  Visit to the Carona Swimming pool
Saturday, July 21st 
Morning Departure for Gruyere
Afternoon Visit of Gruyere Castle
  Overnight in Gruyere
Sunday, July 22nd
All day Visits of cheese and chocolate factories in Gruyere
Monday, July 23rd
All day Departure for Canton Vallis
  Visit of an underground lake and an alpine glacier
  Return to Lugano
Tuesday, July 24th
Morning With Summer Campus Monitor
Afternoon Work on presentations of projects
Wednesday, July 25th
Morning With Summer Campus Monitor
Afternoon With professors and Summer Campus Monitor, preparation for presentations of projects, exam
Thursday, July 26th
Morning Project Presentations
Afternoon Closing Activity (TBD)
  Dinner together at a local grotto and course closure
Friday, July 27th
All day Departures


Tuition, room and board CHF 3,380 USD 3,380*
*Residents of the U.S. and Canada pay in U.S. Dollars (USD).  All others pay in Swiss Francs (CHF).