An "Alpine Seminar" to discover sustainable development

View of the Gerenpass, accessible from the Piansecco alpine cabine in the Bedretto Valley
View of the Gerenpass, accessible from the Piansecco alpine cabine in the Bedretto Valley
The windmill farm on the Gotthard Pass
The windmill farm on the Gotthard Pass
View of Airolo and of the Upper Leventina
View of Airolo and of the Upper Leventina

Institutional Communication Service

24 September 2020

"Università della Svizzera italiana seeks to provide future generations with an education and training that will help them to respect the great balances of nature and life." This statement now follows through and becomes reality, with a seminar organised as part of the Master in International Economics and Politics (MEPIN), which will see 20 students moving to Airolo on October 2 for a two-day "Alpine Seminar", allowing them to experience the concepts of sustainable development in the characteristic environment of the Gotthard region.

USI is not new to similar initiatives, where students are offered the possibility to take part in extra muros courses to observe and even put into practice what they have learned in class. For example, the Master in International Tourism organises regular field trips to so-called 'destination locations', whereas the Master in Digital Fashion Communication curriculum includes a full semester in the European fashion capital, Paris. What the Master in International Economics and Politics proposes, on the other hand, is a first for students of economics - but also for USI: the Alpine Seminar is in fact a 'test' of the off-campus training model that USI intends to develop with the House of Sustainability project in Airolo. The aim of this initiative is - among other things - to organise seminars and courses for USI students in the Gotthard region.

The Alpine Seminar to be held in the Upper Leventina region is organised by Massimo Filippini, Full professor of Economics at USI and ETH Zurich, and Giovanni Pellegri, PhD in Neurobiology and course lecturer, and head of L'ideatorio at USI. "The main objective of the course in the Leventina region is to introduce the main topics related to the concept of sustainable development, and the choice of the Gotthard region is not a coincidence", says Prof. Filippini. "The Alps are in fact a privileged territory, representing an open-air laboratory/observatory, ideal for the study of fundamental issues such as economic development, the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, climate change, energy production, transportation, tourism, and more".

The macro-topic of sustainable development is cherished by USI, which in 2017 launched the World Challenges Programme (WCP) initiative to foster a new approach to how to tackle global challenges by creating new opportunities for knowledge transfer between professionals, academics, students and the public. Similarly, the Master in International Economics and Politics focuses on the understanding of economic-political phenomena related to globalisation and the functioning of public and international institutions, as Prof. Giovanni Pica, Director of MEPIN, explains: "with this Master's programme we lay the foundations for the interdisciplinary study of economics, law, international institutions and international policies, providing students with the multidisciplinary and managerial knowledge required to address issues such as the globalisation of markets, the ageing population, migrations and, indeed, sustainable development".

The programme of the Alpine Seminar includes both classroom lectures, which will take place in the Town hall of Airolo, and a series of sessions and visits to the Gotthard area, in particular to the Gotthard wind farm and the power plants of the municipality of Airolo, as well as an excursion, organised in collaboration with the USI Sports Service, to the new Piansecco alpine cabin of the SAC.
In addition, on October 2, in the evening there will be an event open to the public to view the documentary film "Antropocene – L’epoca umana" at the Cinema Leventina in Airolo, preceded by a brief introduction by the Rector of USI Boas Erez and Professor Massimo Filippini. The Alpine Seminar will end with an optional excursion to the Gerenpass, in the company of the glaciologist Giovanni Kappenberger.

Finally, from 29 September to 3 October the touring planetarium of L'ideatorio will be set up inside the Olimpia hall in Airolo, for all classes of the Upper Leventina inter-municipal institutes. An opportunity also offered to the participants of the Alpine Seminar to observe our planet and its fragility from a cosmic perspective. For further information on the rich calendar of activities of L'ideatorio USI >> www.ideatorio.usi.ch

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