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After the concept was hatched in 2009, it quickly became clear that there were already more than 20 professors at the University of Alberta for whom mountains figured prominently in their research interests. They were spread throughout four separate faculties, however. The CMSI was officially formed in 2011 to facilitate collaboration between these disparate mountain scholars and their students.
Today, the CMSI offers a Mountain Studies certificate (similar to an undergraduate minor) for University of Alberta undergrads, and CMSI professors are accepting mountain-focused graduate students through their respective faculties. Long-term, they are working on achieving full department status, which could lead to a potential for an interdisciplinary Mountain Studies major for undergraduates.
The CMSI hopes to not only support successful mountain-focused research projects, but also grow a budding community of scholars who lead the way into a new field of study. This conference and other collaborative projects offer much promise for the future of montology (the study of mountains) in Canada. Thinking Mountains participants and conference organizers were thrilled with the inaugural event, and plans have already begun for Thinking Mountains 2, to occur in late 2014.
For more information on the CMSI and Thinking Mountains conference, visit www.mountains.ualberta.ca.
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