Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Program Terms: Summer Study Abroad
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Program Description:

This 12-day program introduces you to the nature, culture, history and languages of the European Alps in Switzerland and Italy. We explore the geology of the Alps and how it influences the development of wildlife, flora, history, religion, culture and entire regions. We also investigate how humans have altered the environment and how we respond to climate change in Alpine ecosystems.

We do this all by observing nature in a spectacular landscape, visiting cultural sites off the beaten track and engaging with urban centers, such as the city of Zurich. We get our hands dirty at historical and modern stone quarries (guided by local experts); take in geological monuments (Bergell, Ticino, Rhine Canyon); visit important cultural sites (UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bellinzona and Rhätische Bahn, Church of Zillis–"Sistine of the Alps"); hike across mountains, glaciers and rock glaciers; study plants and wildlife; and learn about local culture and languages.

Bring your hiking boots! Physical fitness is required as we hike several hours on most days on clearly marked mountain paths. Dr. Reto Gieré, the Program Director, is an experienced mountain climber and trekker trained in first aid.

General Eligibility Requirements

Penn Summer Abroad programs are available to undergraduate students at Penn or another accredited US institution. To take part in a Penn Summer Abroad program, all students, including Penn and visiting students, must complete an online application and maintain a strong academic standing.

Personal Conduct and Academic Integrity

In order to qualify to study abroad, you need to be in good academic standing at Penn. In addition, your disciplinary status may affect your eligibility to study abroad. You may not be eligible to study abroad if you currently stand charged or are charged prior to the beginning of your study abroad semester with a violation of a University regulation under the University of Pennsylvania's Code of Student Conduct or Code of Academic Integrity, or if there is a pending, current, or outstanding disciplinary matter (academic integrity or conduct). When the charge results in a warning or reprimand, the student may be eligible to study abroad pending a review of the situation. When the charge results in probation, suspension-not-imposed, suspension, or any sanction as serious as or more serious than probation, students are not eligible to study abroad during the period of the sanction.

Students who have received a sanction of probation or suspension-not-imposed may be eligible to study abroad during a future semester after the expiration date of the sanction. However, students must provide confirmation from the Office of Student Conduct that the terms and conditions of their sanction have been met before receiving Penn Abroad approval to study abroad. If there are new charges during the period of the sanction, approval to study abroad may be rescinded.

GEOL 319 (1 c.u.)
Taught by Reto Gieré

In this course, students explore natural phenomena through direct field experience and gain hands-on experience with methods used to study our environment. Students study the geology of the Alps and how it influences the development of wildlife, flora, history, religion, culture and entire regions; how humans have altered the environment; and how humans respond to climate change in Alpine ecosystems. Students prepare presentations on specific topics which are held during the field trip.

Students are housed in various hotels, hostels and mountain cabins.

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.
Tuition and fees for 2020 will be posted in Spring 2020. 
  • Tuition for summer 2019: $4,392
  • Program fee for summer 2019: $1,800

For more details about Penn-in-the-Alps please visit our website or attend one of our info sessions:
  • Tuesday, October 22 at 5pm location TBA
  • Monday, November 4 at 6pm location TBA
  • Monday, November 25 at 4pm location TBA
  • Thursday, January 23 at 5pm location TBA