The course's main inspiration is to introduce students to sustainable mountain development through the lens of the Alpine and Caucasus mountainous areas. The course is taught for the first time in fall 2022 and open to advanced bachelor students in geography programs at both universities. Lectures and seminar sessions will be simultaneously held online and in-person in Zurich and Tbilisi. Furthermore, students will do fieldwork in their respective regions to gain hands-on experience with various research methods. The course offers a unique setting to engage with different socio-political contexts in the Caucasus and Central Europe, which stimulates a critical examination of and reflection on processes linked to sustainable development in mountain areas. Moreover, we want to allow students to establish international connections and engage with global challenges in an international setting.
The study module will give a general understanding of shifting discourses of mountain places and confronting current challenges, such as climate change and migration. The course will explore and discuss responses to such challenges. One focus will be laid on tourism: We will analyze its development prospects, economic linkages, and, based on recent studies, induced changes in the host society's socioeconomic structure. There will also be a discussion on the best practical examples of mountain tourism development from the European alpine areas. A second core area of the course offers insights into landscape and conservation research in mountainous areas, their foothills (such as the Prealps), and adjacent regions. It will discuss opportunities and challenges linked to protected area establishment and management and will introduce the students to contemporary approaches to nature conservation and landscape research, both in practice and theory.
Students will strengthen their thematic and theoretical knowledge by connecting them with different methods and put them into practice during a group project assignment. Additionally, they will be expected to undertake self-directed learning to deepen their understanding of the reading materials introduced during class.