Landslides, water scarcity, rapid urbanization, consumerist lifestyles and climate change – these are just few examples of contemporary challenges that require an enhanced understanding of environmental and societal processes and their interrelationships. The Faculty of Geosciences and Environment seeks to contribute to the generation and transmission of such knowledge and to more sustainable development through multi- and interdisciplinary research and teaching and the engagement with multiple stakeholders.
Our Faculty is quite unique in Switzerland and in Europe as it combines a large spectrum of natural-science and social-science disciplines, from geophysics, petrology, ecotoxicology and geomorphology to human geography, ecological economics and environmental philosophy. Our research groups, supported by state-of-the-art equipment, address diverse questions: some at geological time-scales, such as the interactions between rock formations, atmospheric conditions and life; others linked more directly to current concerns, for example, with micro-pollutants in rivers, lakes and urban water systems, or with the relationships between land-use planning, real estate markets and residential mobility.
Building upon basic science and different academic disciplines, the Faculty also promotes interdisciplinary research at the interface of natural and social sciences. Despite epistemological and methodological differences, our researchers engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborations on specific topics, such as water management or environmental hazards/risks. Furthermore, they take up issues of regional development, both in the local environment (such as in the mountain regions of western Switzerland) and farther afield in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, in collaboration with local stakeholders.
The Faculty, established in 2003, has seen rapid growth. Today it brings together about 55 professors and senior lecturers, more than 50 post-doctoral researchers and around 140 PhD students – affiliated to one of our three research institutes. Teaching is organized by the School of Geosciences and Environment and emphasis is put on practical and problem-oriented learning.
About 370 students follow our Bachelor program with specializations in geology, environmental science/studies and human/physical geography; and 330 students engage in one of our six research-intensive Master’s programs (geology, biogeosciences, environmental geoscience, geography, tourism studies, and foundations and practices of sustainability). Our alumni works in diverse fields spanning from geological engineering, environmental monitoring to urban planning and teaching, all trying to contribute to a more sustainable world.
Find out more about us on these webpages and feel free to contact us!
Professor of Social Geography
The disciplines of the geosciences and the environment are developing at the frontiers of the exact, experimental and social sciences; they are, fundamentally, interdisciplinary and, for some of them, transdisciplinary.
Geology is a natural science. Geography is at the interface of the natural and social sciences, due to its physical and societal orientations. Within these disciplines, the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment is interested in the co-evolution of people with their environment, at scales ranging from the nano- to the planetary, with a particular focus on Alpine environments and urban metropoli. The effects on human, animal and plant species are also part of the Faculty’s research fields. Such developments can only be achieved through a grounding in fundamental research undertaken at the very highest level. The Environment considers all the fields of geosciences, ranging from issues of environmental philosophy, to the concerns of ecotoxicology while also considering the analysis of environmental risks.
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The Faculty offers a fully comprehensive education in the three disciplines: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, from the first year of the Bachelor and Master to the PhD. These courses are part of the "Bologna Process" European programs. The Faculty delivers PhDs in Geosciences and Environment with specific honors and proposes postgraduate studies in the form of a Master of Advanced Studies for professional purposes.
The FGSE courses prepare students for careers as practitioners and researchers in industry and public services. The courses also prepare students to teach Geography in secondary schools I and II.
Continued education is also one of the FGSE’s goals.
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The Faculty’s research is structured around a suite of laboratories and institutes equipped with cutting-edge technology. The research is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, by local, national and European foundations as well as by private industry. The Faculty also undertakes in educational outreach and research in emerging countries.
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Geoblog, the scientific blog of the FGSE (in french)