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Geology Adventures in the Swiss Alps

Faculty Leader

Geoffrey Cook

Geoff Cook headshotGeoffrey Cook is a Teaching Professor in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Prof. Cook’s research background is in volcanology, although he has broad interests in geology and Earth science. He teaches a wide variety of classes in the Earth Sciences major, including introductory geology, mineralogy, volcanology and numerous freshman seminars. He has had a life-long obsession with minerals, rocks, and volcanoes that began when he was young. Prof. Cook’s real passion is teaching and undergraduate education. He thoroughly enjoys working with students, especially if volcanoes are involved. He is also highly enthusiastic about UC San Diego Global Seminars, having led successful programs in Auckland, New Zealand (2017), Geneva, Switzerland (2018), and Reykjavik, Iceland (2019). He received the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2011, the Sixth College Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2012, and the 2018 UCSD Panhellenic Chapters Outstanding Professor Award.


Why you should go

This Global Seminar will focus on Earth science and geology in the Swiss Alps—a truly amazing and spectacular region. Switzerland is host to incredible natural beauty, including towering mountain peaks, majestic glaciers, massive waterfalls, pristine mountain lakes, and more. Switzerland is also one of the most livable and modern countries in the world, consistently ranking highly among travelers and residents alike. Bern, the Swiss capital city, is a beautiful city with a great mix of new and old-world culture (Bern’s historic old-town in the city center is a UNESCO world heritage site). Bern is centrally-located and a wonderful base from which to explore the region. Weekly field trips are an integral part of the program and will give students a true field‐based education in the geology of Europe. Students will walk around the base of the iconic Matterhorn (near Zermatt), visit the longest glacier in Europe (the Aletsch), explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Bernese Alps around Interlaken, and much, much more!

Who should go

Anyone! Students need no background; the classes have no prerequisites. Students who have an interest in science and nature, and who have an interest in travelling to see a beautiful and inspiring place should apply! Both classes in this seminar may be able to be used as general education courses (natural science requirements) in most of the colleges. SIO 121GS Geology of the Alps may also count as upper division credit in the Earth Science and ESYS-Earth majors, and can be petitioned to count as credit towards a number of other majors. Consult your academic advisor to determine officially how the courses will apply to your graduation requirements.

Information Sessions

See the Info Session Calendar


Departure from U.S.: Sat., June 29, 2024
Arrival: Sun., June 30, 2024
Mandatory Orientation: Mon., July 1, 2024
First Day of Class: Mon., July 1, 2024
Last Day of Class: Fri., August 2, 2024
Departure for the U.S.
(or personal travel):
Sat., August 3, 2024

Flight Information

  • You will be responsible for purchasing your own airplane tickets, and your program coordinator will provide guidelines and resources during the pre-departure process to help you find an appropriate flight.
  • Do not purchase plane tickets until the program is confirmed. All approved applicants will be notified by e-mail when the program has reached minimum enrollment.

Global Seminar Fees

All fees subject to change. See for current tuition and campus-based fees.

  UCSD Other UC Non-UC
Program Cost:
(includes $500 administrative fee)
$7,113.46 $7,113.46 $7,113.46
Estimated Tuition and Campus-Based Fees:
$2,514.43 $2,564.43 $3,454.43
(not including airfare or personal expenses)
$9,627.89 $9,677.89 $10,567.89

Budget Sheet

Funding Options

See the funding options page to learn how financial aid and scholarships can help you pay for this program.

Week 1: Day trip to Lucerne

  • Train from Bern
  • Ascend Mt. Pilatus by cable car
  • Free afternoon in Lucerne

Week 2: Interlaken

  • Travel by train
  • One night in twin rooms with private bathrooms including breakfast at the Hotel Bernerhof in Interlaken
  • Cable car up to Grütschalp and train to Mürren
  • Trail walk back to Grütschalp
  • Cable car down to Lauterbrunnen
  • Admission to the Aare Gorge
  • Ferry tickets on Lake Brienz to Interlaken Ost

Week 3: Zermatt

Week 4: Fiesch and the Aletch Glacier

  • Train from Bern to Fiesch
  • One night in twin rooms with private bathrooms including breakfast at the Schlosshotel Brig
  • Guided tour of Binntal Valley Mineral Museum and walk along mineral collecting trail
  • Tram from Fiesch to Eggishorn and cable car to Aletch Glacier

Week 5: Bern

Bern National History Museum

Excursions are subject to change without prior notice. No refunds are possible.


  • On arrival day students will stay in twin rooms with private bathrooms including breakfast at a hotel close to the Zurich airport. Transportation provided to student residence on the second day.
  • Single room with one bathroom shared by two rooms at a new residence hall, StudentLodge in Bern-Wankdorf City. Students may request roommates during the pre-departure process.
  • Wireless Internet available in rooms and common areas throughout the building
  • Shared kitchenette available
  • Rooms will be cleaned once a week.
  • Sheets and towels are provided; towels will be changed once a week, and sheets will have to be washed by the students.
  • Laundry available in the building
  • The tram station close to the student residence provides a quick and easy access to the city. The classroom can be reached within 20 minutes by public transportation.
  • Housing arrangements are subject to change based on local circumstances without prior notice. No price adjustments are possible.

Included Meals

  • Welcome dinner upon arrival
  • Farewell dinner at end of program

Classroom and Computer Access

  • Classroom space at the Cevi Region Bern Pavilion
  • Wireless Internet in the classroom
  • There is no computer lab available - plan to bring a laptop.
  • Wireless access may be intermittent due to local conditions. No refunds or price adjustments are possible.


  • Transportation by private bus to and from Zurich Airport to the student housing is included in the program. One pick-up time and two different drop-off times will be arranged based on the most common flight arrival times.
  • A local transportation pass for Bern and a Swiss half fare card will be provided for each student.
  • Transportation for all out of town excursions


  • Information about how to obtain a local SIM card will be provided at the pre-departure orientation.
  • Students will be responsible to purchase their own calling time/minutes.

Insurance, Health, and Safety

  • Comprehensive insurance package with CareMed
  • An in-depth orientation will be given on the morning after arrival, including health and safety procedures.
  • Program partner staff will be available by telephone after hours.
  • All students must register for UC travel insurance. This is free coverage, but registration is required prior to departure.