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Study Abroad



The French Alps: Its Culture and Biology

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French Alps

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

This course is now closed for the Summer 2014 term.

Course:  BIOL 223, Topics in Biology or IS 210, Topics in Culture and Civilization (three credits)
Instructor:  Dr. Kirk Kelley, Professor of Biology 
Support Person:  Amy Gorowsky
Dates:  June 26 - July 15, 2014
Locations:  Annecy, Chamonix and Paris, France 
Price:  $4,963 (tentative)

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

Complete the online application and submit a $500 application deposit to the Center for International Education by December 2.

  • Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • The application deposit is deducted from the total program cost.
  • If you are not accepted, or if the program is canceled, the application deposit is refundable.
  • If you are accepted, this deposit is non-refundable after December 2.

Payment deadlines

January 3, 2014: $1,000 commitment fee due
March 30, 2014: remaining balance due

Payment details

  • Submit $1,000 commitment fee to the Center for International Education.
  • Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • The commitment fee is deducted from the total program cost.
  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • The commitment fee is non-refundable after January 3.
  • Please submit your final payment to Student Account Services by March 30.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after March 30.