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Dealing with natural hazards

Network for educating and teaching in the inter- and transdisciplinary field of natural hazards and extension service

Project ID: 991023
Project outline
Project homepage:
Course platform:WebCT

Project Leader

Dr. Walter J. Ammann
Eidg. Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung
Flüelastrasse 11
7260 Davos

Project Coordinator

Nicole Bischof
Eidg. Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung

Project Partners

Prof. Dr. R. Weingartner
Geography, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. H. Kienholz
Geography, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. M. Monbaron
Geography, Université de Fribourg
Prof. Dr. L. Vulliet (Co-Leader)
Prof. Dr. M. Badoux
Prof. Dr. A. Parriaux
Prof. Dr. A. Musy
Prof. Dr. M. Haller
Insurance Economics, Universität St. Gallen
Prof. Dr. D. Giardini (Co-Leader)
Prof. Dr. W. Haeberli
Geography, ETHZ
Prof. Dr. H. Lorenz
Cartography, ETHZ
Prof. Dr. S. Löw
Geology, Universität Zürich


Our intensively settled human environment intersects more and more significantly with the world of hazardous natural processes. Because of the complexity of such processes and impacts, dealing with the risks demands a broad education in many sub-domains of the earth sciences and the socio-economic field. Inter- and trans-disciplinary training and education of professionals is therefore essential.

The main goal of this Virtual Campus (VC) project "Dealing with natural hazards" is to provide a common educational and course program that makes available to a large number of students the cross-disciplinary basics of dealing with natural hazards, including technical, environmental and social aspects. The Virtual Campus will encourage increased exchanges between researchers who are often very widely separated from each other geographically.

Courses in the field of natural hazards and risk management are divided into many sub-disciplines in Switzerland. The relevant institutes of the universities and the ETH-domain therefore research and teach in a very sectoral way.

Although the analysis and assessment of individual hazardous natural processes demand sectoral knowledge, a comprehensive overview of risks and the vulnerability of systems is also essential. This comprehensive approach will be significantly enhanced by the Virtual Campus project. In particular, it will enable teachers and students to discuss this increasingly important field of dealing with natural hazards in an interdisciplinary fashion and to fill gaps in knowledge in a cost-effective way through networking. The results of current research work will flow directly into the teaching of the course through the virtual platform and thus will rapidly become available to a large community of users.

The course content has been distributed over 5 Modules: 1 Basic Knowledge and Tools, 2 Hydrological / Meteorological Hazards, 3 Geological Hazards, 4 Vulnerability of Property and of Socio-economic Systems, 5 Integral Natural Risk Management. The VC courses also serve as preparation for the very important joint exercises of field work.

The Virtual Campus "Dealing with Natural Hazards" is being developed primarily in English so that it is available for all our language regions (which are represented in our network of partners). At a later phase this will also make the Virtual Campus accessible internationally.

The project of a Virtual Campus "Dealing with Natural Hazards" represents a worldwide first in the form proposed here, and is widely welcomed by our partners in other countries as are the pedagogic activities we already organize in a coordinated and interdisciplinary framework to deal with natural hazards.

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