University Course

How do mountain regions respond to climate change or out-migration? Such questions guide the transnational research seminar “Sustainable Mountain Development” taught at Tbilisi State University and the University of Zurich starting in 2022. MTA was developed for this course to facilitate cross-country student collaboration, and for participants explore different (mountain) contexts in Georgia and Switzerland. Follow our project on this website to learn more about the course and explore students’ writings!

General scope

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 was taught for the first time in fall 2022 and is open to advanced bachelor and master 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.


During the semester, the students worked on individual tasks and group projects.

The 8 UZH student teams conducted research projects on topics such as the impact of climate change on mountain tourism, landscape perception and renewable energy infrastructure, migration of young people, or structural change in mountain villages.

Check out some research results in the slides below!

Perception of winter tourism infrastructure

UZH Team 2: Maurin Karzig, Anna Schweiter, Danja Suremann, Lukas Matthias Oettli

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Spatial Planning for Inward Development in Vella, Val Lumnezia

UZH Team 5: Ella Schubiger, Alessandro Joshua Piero, Oliver Keller, Jari Kern

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Interactions between mountain imagination and accessibility in the context of alpine clubs in Switzerland

UZH Team 6: Kaspar Marugg, Philip Gerber, Mattia Salvi, Dennis Wild

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Why is the youth leaving the Alpine Region in Switzerland?

UZH Team 7: Gilles Aebischer, Luca Capitanio, Valentin Rist, Andri Voser

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The core elective module provides tutorial-style teaching and discussion environments in smaller groups based on lecture themes. Lessons, seminars, and group projects are used to explore important topics in sustainable development in mountainous countries. The study module will give a general understanding of shifting discourses of mountain places linked to 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.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the course will be able to obtain scientific and practical knowledge:

  • Students can effectively collaborate in groups in a cross-cultural environment.
  • Students are able to write texts for scientific and non-scientific audiences.
  • Students can describe different qualitative research methods and are able to apply some of them in a small research project.
  • Students are able to formulate research questions related to the course topics, and to plan and conduct a research project to answer these questions.
  • Students can critically discuss current challenges related to sustainable (mountain) development.
  • Students are able to connect conceptual approaches with case studies in the Alpine and Caucasus regions.
  • Students are able to discuss different development trends and social, ecological, and economic impacts of migration and tourism in mountains.
  • Students are able to reflect on the social implications of nature conservation projects.
Please find more detailed information in the UZH syllabus. 
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App Downloads & Manual

Download the App of the project for Android or IOS now!
Below you can also find a short App Manual with an overview about the core features:

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Open App Manual