Discussing Transformative Research and Education on Mountains at the 17th Swiss Geoscience Meeting
MRI News
article written by MRI
30.01.20 | 11:01

In November 2019, MRI joined forces with Interdisciplinary Center for Mountain Research (CIRM) and Forum Landscape, Alps, Parks (FoLAP) to invite researchers to discuss transformative research and education on mountains at the 17th Swiss Geoscience Meeting. The symposium 20. ‘Taking Stock of Transformative Research & Education on Mountains. What Future Avenues?’ was convened by Iago Otero & Emmanuel Reynard (CIRM and Uni Lausanne), Carolina Adler (MRI) and Jörg Balsiger (MRI and FoLAP).


The integration of scientific disciplines and lay knowledge in adaptive governance networks spanning across scales has been stressed as being crucial for facilitating transformations to sustainability. However, key interdependencies and complexities of environmental problems have not been sufficiently accounted for to explore the solutions space. New research approaches that build on past achievements are needed to contribute to the sustainable mountain development. With this in mind, the symposium aimed to: 1) take stock of the inter- and transdisciplinary transformative research, education, and training on mountain regions conducted so far; and 2) define the priority research and training avenues for the immediate future.

Four oral presentations and four posters presented case studies across disciplines, methodologies and mountain regions, contributing to the discussion and shedding light on the possibilities and challenges in transformative research and education.

Oral contributions covered varied topics like education interventions on climate change effects, a relational approach to values, the role of knowledge flows in climate change adaptation, and wildfire as a lens to better understand transformative research. Posters complemented these perspectives with timely contributions. These included education programs to enhance the participation of women in glaciology and to facilitate climate change adaptation, the role of serendipity for transformative research, and the potential of extensive grazing to revitalize mountain regions.

“The symposium triggered an exciting discussion on the prospects for transformative research and education on mountains, and we hope that this leads to more collaboration on this crucial topic for the sustainability of our mountains”, says co-convener Iago Otero from CIRM. What is to be transformed and what is the agency of transformation were two crucial topics relevant across the wide diversity of transformation initiatives covered during the symposium.  In addition to the session, MRI presented its work and current projects in the exhibition hall during the SGM. 

Discussion on the topic will continue at the EGU 2020 General Assembly in Vienna in May at the EGU session ‘ITS1.10/NH9.27 Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research and Practice: State of Transformative Knowledge to Address Global Ghange Challenges in Mountain Regions of the World‘ organized by the MRI.

The 17th Swiss Geoscience Meeting organized by the Department of Geosciences of the University of Fribourg and the Platform geosciences of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) was held in Fribourg, Switzerland on 22-23 November 2019.

Photo by Lukas Bieri.