Where Georgia and Switzerland meet. (c) Tara von Grebel, SIVIC Scientific Visualisation and Visual Communication, University of Zurich

Where do Georgia and Switzerland meet? Kick-off of a study course on Sustainable Mountain Development

Written by Gvantsa Salukvadze and Annina Michel

In 2020, academic staff from the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich and the Department of Human Geography at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University's Faculty of Social and Political Sciences teamed up to create a new, modular course at both institutions. The project received financial assistance in the form of a seed funding grant from the Swiss Leading House for Science and Technology Cooperation, University of Geneva, as part of the Swiss Bilateral Cooperation Programme of SERI. In addition, in 2021, a competitive research fund was received from UZH in order to develop an app to facilitate cross-border student collaboration and learning.

The course provides a unique setting to engage with various socio-political contexts in the Caucasus and Central Europe, stimulating critical engagement with and reflection on processes linked to sustainable development in mountain areas. The first cohort of students from both universities will enter the course in fall 2022. Lectures and seminar sessions will be simultaneously held online and in-person in Zurich and Tbilisi, addressing students on advanced bachelor and master levels, respectively. The course will include traditional and innovative lecture formats, based on student-centered teaching and participatory learning to foster student engagement, as well as the in-depth exploration of course topics and research methods.

The project team would like to express gratitude towards the Swiss Leading House for Science and Technology Cooperation, University of Geneva, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), and UZH for without their financial support the study course development would not be possible. Furthermore, special thanks for the considerable in-kind support by the Swiss Embassy in Georgia—particularly its former Deputy head, Mr. Alvaro Borghi—for institutional support and personal encouragement.

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