Mountains 101

The University of Alberta is soon to establish Canada’s first fully integrated and interdisciplinary institute for Mountain Studies; one that can not only define an emerging new discipline but that can bring researchers, students, and community participants together in improving our understanding of mountain practices, places, and people.

The University of Alberta houses extraordinary strengths in mountain studies. Over thirty faculty members — from several separate University faculties with focuses across the human, social, and applied sciences — now carry out research and teaching in the specific disciplinary areas of mountain studies. Individually they attract some of the strongest graduate students to the university from Canada and across the globe. In association with the University’s existing world-class strength in research and teaching on The North, we seek to make mountain studies part of the core identity of the University of Alberta.

Mountain study is an integral part of policy decisions about natural resource management. Our knowledge of Cambrian life forms largely depends on what we have learned from mountain environments, as do scientific advances in the area of global warming and climate change. In Western Canada, mountain study provides a fundamental knowledge of how leisure and recreational activities like alpine skiing, hiking, and mountaineering intersect with park management principles and the rights of Indigenous communities. Many world religions revere mountain regions for their proximity to the sacred. Yet, no other university has established an institute dedicated specifically to understanding mountains, mountain cultures and mountain activities in relation to one another, and to bringing students, faculty members and the community together through the study of mountains.