Syntopia Alpina: Institute launches its own online magazine

Pictures by Marco Volken frame the Syntopia Alpina project. (Photo Marco Volken)


From now on, the Institute "Cultures of the Alps" will publish a specialist article every Tuesday in its own online magazine "Syntopia Alpina".

"Syntopia Alpina" is the new online magazine of the Uri Institute "Cultures of the Alps". From now on, it will provide a weekly technical article on a topic related to the Alps and went online this week with the first five contributions. Among other things, they deal with an animal solution to the increasing bush encroachment on mountain slopes, the melting of the permafrost and the opportunities of digitalisation for the mountain region. The Alps as a habitat and initiatives dedicated to sustainability are always in focus.

The magazine is aimed at interested persons from science, business, politics, culture and society who are concerned with the challenges and perspectives of the Alpine region. The essays from a wide range of disciplines bring together application-based empirical knowledge with current research. As a platform, "Syntopia Alpina" links researchers and experts with practical experience; as a transdisciplinary publication project, it brings innovative and sustainable ideas and future models for the Alpine region to the general public.

Experts and practitioners exchange ideas

"Syntopia Alpina" communicates, networks and sets impulses - locally, regionally and across the Alpine region. The online magazine presents common places where different uses of the Alpine space fruitfully meet and add value to the biosphere. The Swiss Alpine Space is re-situated in the national, European and global context with regard to the great challenges of this century. Therefore, renowned experts from science as well as explicitly from the field of application-based empirical knowledge will have their say. The contributions propose sensible ideas for implementation, gather experiences on the ground and link them to future models.

Conflicts of use are obvious

The contributions to "Syntopia Alpina" focus, among other things, on conflicts of use that are simply obvious in the Alpine region: The hiker who does not know how to deal with suckler cows puts the farmer's wife in need of explanation. The planned raising of the dam wall destroys moorland and enrages environmental protection organisations. The residual water in the streams below the power plants is too little for certain fish species and too much for energy production. And slurry spread on the meadow stinks all the way to the nearby hotel. Economy, agriculture, tourism and nature conservation are always in a mutual conflict of use. At the same time, climate change plays a major role in the online contributions of "Syntopia Alpina" as a threat to the habitat, which particularly affects the Alps.

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Photographs by Marco Volken enrich contributions

Over the next few months, a growing compendium of contributions at the interface between the formative economic and cultural sectors in the Alpine region will be created on the "Syntopia Alpina" platform. A selection of the published online contributions will appear in 2023 in a printed annual anthology, which will also be available in bookshops.

On the visual level, the photographs of the Zurich mountain photographer Marco Volken create a visual bracket over the entire project "Syntopia Alpina". They precede the respective essays and refer to them in terms of content, but are conceived as independent contributions and enrich the contributions with additional aesthetic, critical or even opposing statements. Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić (responsibility for content), Madlaina Bundi (project management and editorial responsibility) and Aline Stadler (editor) are responsible for "Syntopia Alpine".

The project "Syntopia Alpina" is made possible by the Lucerna Foundation, the Otto Gamma Foundation, the Research Commission of the University of Lucerne, the UBS Cultural Foundation and the P. Herzog Foundation Lucerne.


A newsletter, which is always sent out at the end of the month, always presents the latest contributions. More information is available at



Interview "The online magazine provides an insight into our research".

Boris Previšić, the Uri Institute "Cultures of the Alps" is launching its own online magazine, why?
Boris Previšić: Since we started our activities in Altdorf two years ago, we have been noticed more and more intensively by a national and international community of Alpine and mountain researchers, but also by local practitioners. All the more frequently we are contacted and are in exchange with researchers and institutions that are associated with the Institute in various forms and contribute to the content of our research fields, namely in the sectors of energy, agriculture and tourism. The online magazine now provides an insight into this diverse research and experience by communicating important contents of the Alpine Space in a vivid and approachable way.

Climate change, nature conservation, overtourism, the law on second homes, brain drain and large predators: the Alpine region is struggling with many challenges. Does it have a future as a habitat at all?
Previšić: And how! Precisely because the challenges in the Alpine region become visible more quickly than elsewhere, they are ultimately better overcome. If the challenges are seized as opportunities to position themselves regionally and supraregionally, the Alps also offer a model for other regions on how to deal wisely with so-called megatrends. But this requires basic research at the intersections between different disciplines and issues. It needs a way of thinking that takes findings from practice seriously and places them in a larger context.

In this way, the "Syntopia Alpina" platform can provide answers to the current challenges of the Alpine region.
Previšić: We remain modest: With "Syntopia Alpina" we are making a contribution to ensuring that our Alps - and perhaps also our country - continue to be worth living in.

Why the name "Syntopia Alpina"?
It is a new word creation that I concocted from ancient Greek. We all know words with "syn" or "sym" like synergy or sympathetic. This prefix means nothing other than with each other or together, while "topos" refers to the place. Thus, our online magazine assumes that the Alpine Space is a place where we pull together, come together for that, exchange and also think together different areas of life and sectors of the economy.