Study Abroad


The French Alps: Its Culture and Biology

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SAU students in the French Alps. Photo by SAU Professor Kirk Kelley.

This course is not accepting applications at this time.

Course:  BIOL 223, Topics in Biology or IS 210, Topics in Culture and Civilization (three credits)
Instructor:  Dr. Kirk Kelley, Professor of Biology 
Dates:  June 19 - July 8, 2015 (On-campus orientation to be held on June 18)
Locations:  Annecy, Chamonix and Paris, France 
Price:  $5,000 
Application deadline: January 5, 2015

Program description

This is a course that strives to study the intersection between biology and the people and culture of the Western Alps. There will be two major components to this course. First, there will be an investigation of selected biological topics relevant to the Alps. In order to understand the ecology of the Alps, one must first have a basic understanding of the geology and climatology of the region. Once this foundation is established, students will begin to learn about the ecology of the region. The use of scientific method will play a major role in the understanding of these topics. Altitude plays a major role in alpine ecology. We will study the effects of altitude on growth patterns and distribution of plants and animals. Global climate change is a topic of world-wide importance and the recession of glaciers due to climate change affects plants and animals as well as the local tourism industry. Another topic we will explore is the effect of high altitude on the human body. 

The second component will include a study of French civilization, culture, language, and people, especially relating to the Alps. The Alps serve as a unique physical barrier to language and culture between different countries. The region where we will study is very near the convergence of France, Italy, and Switzerland. This provides for a unique regional interaction of languages, cultures, and religion. Some of the activities are designed to bring students closer to the lives of French people and to the patterns of French living, thus gaining some sense of the rhythm of French life. We will visit a wonderful regional cultural museum where paintings and relics give one a glimpse of how alpine people lived in an earlier era. Of course, culture can also be experienced through the local cuisine. We will experience regional dishes that reflect the alpine lifestyle. 

Naturally, no visit to France would be complete without time spent in Paris. The great "City of Lights" has long been recognized world-wide as a center for culture, education, music, art, and architecture. It is also unarguably the very heart of the francophone world. Students will experience this culture by visiting some of the world's most well-know sites and museums and from simply wandering through Parisian neighborhoods. 

This course fulfills General Education requirements for 3 credits of natural science (BIOL 223) or humanities (IS 210), but not both. 

What is included
  • Course fees
  • Roundtrip airfare from Chicago to Paris 
  • Ground transportation to/from Chicago
  • Ground transportation in France
  • Housing
  • Excursions
  • International medical insurance with trip delay coverage

What is not included
  • Passport fee
  • Personal baggage fees
  • Most meals ($20-40 per day)
  • Entrance fees ($30)
  • Spending money

How to apply

Application deadline - January 5, 2015. No applications will be accepted after this date.
Step 1: Complete the online application.
Step 2: Fill out a Liability Form. Return your completed Liability Form to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
Step 3: Submit a $500 deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove). Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.

Payment deadlines and instructions

  • January 5, 2015: $500 deposit due
    Turn in your deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
    Deposit checks should be made payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • January 26, 2015: $1,000 commitment fee due
    Turn in your deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
    Deposit checks should be made payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • April 3, 2015: remaining balance due
    Turn in your final payment to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University or pay online with credit card.
    Credit card users - Indicate that the payment is for the SUMMER 2015 term.

Payment details

  • The $500 deposit is refundable ONLY if you are not accepted or if the program is canceled.
  • If you are accepted, all payments are non-refundable after each payment deadline.
  • All payments are deducted from the total program cost.
  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • Credit card users will incur additional service fees.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after April 3.