Field & International Experiences: French and Italian Alps over images of small village in front of mountain landscape, two students hiking in a mountainous meadow, and a french city

a group of students in a mountainous landscape with cloudsstreet in Austria with buildingsgroup of students at high mountain hutmountainous Dolomites landscapetwo students smiling on a trainhorses in mountainous landscapegroup of four people walking in the mountains



For centuries, painters, poets, and explorers have documented the human connection to mountains in work that provides a record of environmental change and humans’ shifting relationship to these complex systems. Roughly one quarter of the earth’s land surface is covered by mountains and today mountain landscapes are home to more than one billion people, supporting various livelihoods, especially those related to recreation and tourism. Compared to other terrestrial ecosystems, mountain ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Yet not all mountains are equal and emerging research demonstrates that these systems respond variably to climate change, impacting landforms, ecosystems, and cultures in sometimes surprisingly different ways. 

During spring semester, online learners will utilize an interdisciplinary approach to consider how we are adapting our relationship to mountains as pressures from climate change–such as glacial retreat, permafrost warning, increased hazards, and shifts in agriculture, forestry, and tourism–are mounting.

Students who choose to participate in the optional field course during summer will explore on foot the contemporary landscapes and cultures of Europe’s high alpine and surrounding communities with an eye to human history and futures in the region

Instructors: Courtney Carlson | Curt Davidson


Offered every other year. The program includes the following components:

  • Spring semester: ENR 4965 / 5965 Alpine Climate & Culture (3 credits, Online Asynchronous)

  • August: travel to Austrian and Italian Alps

Upcoming programs: August, 2024 (final dates TBD: August 1-19)


Open to all UW students. Preference given to applicants enrolled in Haub School programs. 


Admission: program admission is dependent upon application and possible interview. Apply here.

Travel requirements: passport valid for travel to the European Union and ETIAS travel authorization. Additional requirements may apply.


Includes: lodging, in-country transportation, entrance fees, instruction, excursions, and some meals. 

Does not include: roundtrip airfare, most meals, UW Education Abroad fee (includes travel insurance), ETIAS visa fee, or UW tuition and fees for spring semester credits. 

Program Fee 2024: coming soon (est. $4500/student; depends on number of participants)



  • stay in traditional alpine huts (rifugi) in the Italian Alps, experiencing local hospitality and learning about the role of these huts in mountaineering culture

  • visit Messner Mountain Museums to delve deeply into the cultural, historical, and emotional bonds between humans and the mountains

  • experience the culinary traditions of the regions with visits to mountain restaurants and local trattorias

    • sample dishes like polenta, canederli (dumplings), and speck (smoked ham), and learn about the historical influences on Alpine cuisine

  •  join us for an info session to learn more >>>>>>>>


Participants should be prepared for long periods of sitting, extensive walking, strenuous hiking, and rustic accommodations. Participants should be prepared to carry a pack (20lbs+) and spend full days outdoors in changing weather conditions.



Join us for an info session:



We are currently accepting applications for Summer 2024 travel. 

Application Deadline: November 15, 2023.


Please contact Field & International Program Coordinator 

Melanie Matthews -