More about the institute

The Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’ is dedicated to all fields of study directly or indirectly related to the Alps. At present, for example, our researchers are working in disciplines like prehistoric findings, alpine traditions as well as a range of modern-day issues that impact the livelihood of all of humanity. 

Dictated to us by our topography, our research focuses on the co-existence in the Alps of a wide range of expressions of life, culture, recreation and nature, all in closely juxtaposed spaces, as well as issues like transalpine transport via the heart of Europe, resources like wood, farm produce, water, wind, sun and many more. 

Working through archives, gaining an in-depth understanding of history and its testimonies, at Cultures of the Alps such activities are never an end in themselves but merely the basis for our research. Our real focus is on preparing the terrain for both present and future works on the Alps – really a very fragile space – of still greater range and reach. Structural change always leads to cultural change. In this the Alps are leading the way, for example in areas like protection against the forces of nature, nature conservation, insight into magical interpretations of the world, administration of public property, testing of the latest technologies and models, etc. This holistic approach is the basis from which the Institute aims to generate new ways of observation, narrating and action. 

To achieve these aims, the Institute created a centre of gravity in cultural and social sciences, and promotes transdisciplinary exchanges with the natural sciences and arts. Cultures of the Alps is an independent institute affiliated with the University of Luzern. Very centrally located in the Alps, we offer posts to researchers interested in alpine archive research and fieldwork. The Institute is a platform for regional, national and international research on the Alps, or any scientific issues directly or indirectly related to them. We regularly organize events, publish research outcomes and actively interact with the local population. We are open to any new forms of cooperation with external parties involved in any of our focus areas. 

The Institute enjoys the financial support of the Swiss confederate government (New Regional Policy), the Canton of Uri and the Dätwyler Foundation. All sponsors subscribe to the scientific independence of our research.

Partner Organizations



End Of Pilot Stage

On successful completion of the pilot stage, the Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’ will obtain the status of a permanent research body. 


Formal Opening

Formal inauguration of the Institute in the Uristier hall in Altdorf. 


Institute Regulations

The University of Luzern and the Scientific Association of Uri adopt the regulations of the Institute. 


Operational Launch

The Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’ takes up office in Dätwylerstrasse 25, 6460 Altdorf, and starts operations.


Cooperation Agreement

The University of Luzern and the Scientific Association of Uri sign a cooperation agreement on the joint development of the Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’. 


Creation of Supporting Organization

Representatives of the Canton of Uri and the Usern and Uri Corporations set up the Scientific Association of Uri. 


Support by Dätwyler Foundation

Unlocking the project, the Dätwyler Foundation awards a generous amount towards the pilot stage of the Institute.


Canton of Uri Finances Startup

 Laying the cornerstone of the project, the Executive Council of Uri awards an amount for the Institute’s startup operations.


Creation of a University Institute

The Executive Council of Uri and the University of Luzern agree on the creation of a joint university research institute in Uri. 


Physical Presence of a University Institute

The Executive Council of Uri decides to launch an institute named ‘Cultures of the Alps’ in conjunction with the University of Lucerne.

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The Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’ has received financing for a pilot stage up to the end of 2022. Throughout this stage, the Institute will remain under the aegis of the Scientific Association of Uri, whose Board of Directors consists of President Ruth Wipfli Steinegger (Board Member of the University Association of the University of Luzern), Vice President Dr Ivo Schillig (Foundation Vice President, delegate of the Foundation Board and Executive Director of the Alpine Energy Research Center AlpEnForCe), Kurt Schuler (Vice President of Uri Corporation), Georg Simmen (Ursern Corporation) and Hansrudolf Schurter (Chairman of SCHURTER Holding AG). 

As affiliate of the University of Luzern, the Institute has its own managerial setup but retains close staffing and organisational links with the University of Luzern. The particularities of its relationship with the University have been set out in the cooperation agreement of 26 August 2019. 

The project is funded by the Canton of Uri, Dätwyler Foundation and Switzerland’s New Regional Policy (NRP). 

Scientific Advisory Board

Prof. Emeritus Dr. Jon Mathieu, President

University of Luzern

Dr. Cordula Seger, Member

Director of the Grisons Institute for Cultural Research

Prof. Dr. Nelly Valsangiacomo, Member

University of Lausanne