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.

 

Mountain Courses

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Mountains 101

Mountains 101 is a 12-lesson MOOC teaching a comprehensive introduction to mountain environments, peoples and contemporary issues through interdisciplinary study.

 

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Latest News

Climb every mountain: Canada's newest Network of Centres of Excellence to be hosted at the University of Alberta

Canadian Mountain Network to receive $18.3M in funding over the next five years through the national Networks of Centres of Excellence program.


Glacier to table: Understanding the effects of melting glaciers on drinking water

December 11, 2019

Project takes a multifaceted look at water sources in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Climb every mountain: Canada's newest Network of Centres of Excellence to be hosted at the University of Alberta

April 16, 2019

Canadian Mountain Network to receive $18.3M in funding over the next five years through the national Networks of Centres of Excellence program.

Thawing ice in Canada's North revealing ancient artifacts central to Indigenous cultural identity

September 12, 2019

As alpine ice patches melt, the leftover belongings of the North's first inhabitants are emerging after hundreds and even thousands of years.

International Mountain Day: an urgent call to the importance of mountains to life

September 26, 2019

Through a global campaign, social media activities and events around the world, International Mountain Day is creating a large movement dedicated to making mountain issues prominent for decision-makers.

UN Mountain Partnership in Science Magazine: Now is the time to accelerate mountain policies, strategies and actions

September 19, 2019

Science Magazine recently released a special issue on mountains exploring the latest research related to climate change, biodiversity, mountain peoples and alpine rivers.

CMN researchers looking to the past and future to understand human impacts on mountains

August 15, 2019

Vancouver Island University researchers are studying both past data and future projections over 100 years to discover how mountain ecosystems are changing due to human activity.

View Mountain News

 

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, 2015, and 2018) 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 also led the development of the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN), which launched in 2019.

The CMN benefits from the expertise of many UAlberta researchers, including Stan Boutin (President & co-Research Director), Rolf Vinebrooke (Professor & Principal Investigator), David Coltman (Professor, Chair of Biological Sciences, and Investigator), and more, and the network offers research, training, and knowledge mobilization programs and funding. For more information, visit the CMN website.