Mountain Research and Initiatives

Mountain studies are part of the core identity of the University of Alberta. We are dedicated specifically to understanding mountains, mountain cultures, and mountain activities in relation to one another, and to bringing students, faculty members, and community together through the study of mountains.

Why mountain studies matter(horn)

  • Mountain study is integral to policy decisions about natural resource management;
  • Our knowledge of Cambrian life forms depends in large part on what we have learned from mountain environments, as does scientific advance in the area of global warming;
  • Especially in Western Canada, mountain study is foundational to our understanding of how leisure and recreational activities, like alpine skiing, hiking, and mountaineering, intersect with park management principles, and with the rights and prerogatives of indigenous communities;
  • World religions revere mountain regions for their proximity to the sacred.

UAlberta's unique connection to the mountains

The University of Alberta's proximity to the Rocky and Columbia Mountains gives it hands-on access to our object of study.

The University’s long history in mountain study extends from the establishment of the Banff Centre in 1933 to present work on glacier biochemistry, for example, or the Mountain Cairns monograph series on Rockies’ history and culture from the University of Alberta Press. The University Library, Canada's second largest, has unequalled strengths in Canadian mountain history and literature, in mountain cartography, and in glacial science.

In 2009, the University hosted the “Summit Series” of public lectures, which showcased interdisciplinary mountain studies to the wider community. Two international Thinking Mountains Conferences, in 2012 and 2015, brought together scholars, community members and land managers from across Canada and the world.

The UAlberta Mountain Initiative seeks to elevate our existing strengths in and about mountains to a world-class level. To this end, the University of Alberta is also leading the development of the Canadian Mountain Network (