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1 November 2010 The Swiss Interacademic Commission for Alpine Studies (ICAS)
Thomas Scheurer
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A Swiss national platform for Alpine studies

The Swiss Interacademic Commission for Alpine Studies (ICAS) is an interdisciplinary commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT). It was founded in 1994 and has been supported since then by the Arts and SCNAT and the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS).

ICAS was established to develop a national platform in Switzerland for inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation in mountain research in light of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 (1992) and to cooperate in meeting the needs of the Alpine Convention (1991). ICAS thus promotes research among all disciplines concerned with mountain issues and—as mountain research was long driven mainly by the natural sciences—especially between the natural sciences and the humanities. In recent years, ICAS and SAHS have successfully committed the humanities and social sciences to mountain research, for instance by initiating the Swiss National Research Programme 48 (NRP48), “Landscapes and Habitats in the Alps” (2001–2007; see also the Special Issue of Mountain Research and Development [MRD] published in May 2008). Furthermore, ICAS is engaged in permanent dialogue between science and society (mainly with policy-makers, administrators, and practitioners).

Main activities

Pursuing these tasks in national and international contexts, ICAS focuses on the following activities:

Internationally, ICAS cooperates closely with the International Scientific Committee on Research in the Alps (ISCAR: ISCAR is an official observer of the Alpine Convention and therefore focuses on pan-Alpine topics of relevance to the Convention and on research cooperation among scientists from all Alpine countries:

BOX 1: ICAS in a nutshell


The Commission is composed of 15 members from different disciplines and research institutes and additional guests from scientific networks and federal agencies.

Members (as of 2010) include: Prof Heinz Veit (president, University of Berne, physical geography, ISCAR delegate), Prof Bernard Debarbieux (University of Geneva, human geography), Prof Reynald Delaloye (University of Fribourg, physical geography), Prof Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [ETH] Zurich, landscape planning), Prof Christian Körner (University of Basel and Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment [GMBA], plant ecology), Prof Walter Leimgruber (University of Basel, social anthropology), Dr Luigi Lorenzetti (University of Southern Switzerland, Laboratory of Alps History, ISCAR delegate), Prof Cla Riatsch (University of Zurich, Romance languages and literatures), Prof emeritus Peter Rieder (ETH Zurich, agro-economics), Dr Andreas Rigling (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, forest dynamics), PD Dr Eva Schüpbach (University Center César Ritz, meteorology), and Prof Dominik Siegrist (University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil, tourism).

Guests (as of 2010) include: Andreas Stalder (Swiss Federal Office for the Environment), Silvia Jost (Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development), Prof emeritus Paul Messerli (SCNAT), Dr Manuela Cimeli (SAHS), Christian Preiswerk (SCNAT), Dr Urs Kneubühl (Swiss Alpine Museum), Prof Rolf Weingartner (Mountain Research Initiative [MRI]), and Dr Astrid Wallner (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern).


The ICAS office in Bern (Figure 1) provides operational support for ICAS as well as for ISCAR activities (3 part-time jobs totaling 120%).

Links to mountain research initiatives, networks, and programs in Switzerland

The ICAS website provides links to a number of projects and networks.



Figure 1

The Swiss Alps and Swiss mountain policy: panorama of the Alps from Bern, Switzerland's capital city, with a glimpse of the parliament building on the right (see next page). (Photo by Thomas Vatter, Bern)


Open access article: please credit the authors and the full source.

Thomas Scheurer "The Swiss Interacademic Commission for Alpine Studies (ICAS)," Mountain Research and Development 30(4), 398-400, (1 November 2010).
Published: 1 November 2010

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