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Photo: Layla Neufeld, Parks Canada

Mountains matter. They comprise a quarter of the world’s land surface. They house a quarter of the world’s human population. Mountains hold extraordinary cultural significance for societies around the globe, and are venerated in religion, art, and literature. Mountains can be sites of extraordinary possibility and wealth, but also be zones of debilitating poverty:  places on societies’ margins, where communications are poor and infrastructure, jobs, services, education, and health care are lacking. Mountains provide the world with critical ecosystem services, from fresh water to forests. They’re hotspots for biological and cultural diversity. They respond rapidly and intensely to climatic and environmental variation, and are increasingly coming to be recognized by both human and natural scientists as ‘sentinels for change.’ Mountains impact everyone, everywhere.

Thinking Mountains 2018 will bring researchers, students, and teachers from across the scholarly disciplines into dialogue with activists, artists, Indigenous leaders, and community members, all of whom share a commitment to global mountain sustainability, and to the betterment of mountain peoples, places, and activities.


This will be the third interdisciplinary Thinking Mountains gathering. Thinking Mountains 2012 took place at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Thinking Mountains 2015 was held in Jasper, Alberta. Thinking Mountains 2018 – hosted by the University of Alberta, in conjunction with the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, and in association with our many academic and community partners – will be housed at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, in Banff, Alberta, from October 2–5. This international summit meeting will be devoted to the possibilities entailed in thinking not just within but across the boundaries of disciplinary scholarship, and to the power of understanding that can arise from the combination of new research findings with traditional orders of knowledge.

Please join us in our attempt to think mountains seriously, and better.

Conference field trip 2015

A Thinking Mountains 2015 field trip in Jasper with Eric Higgs and Mary Sanseverino of the Mountain Legacy Project. [Photo: Mary Sanserverio, 2015]

2018 organizing committee


Joanna Croston, Programming Director, Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

Heather Green, Conference Assistant, Postdoctoral Fellow, History, McMaster University

David Hik, Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

Katherine Ledford, Associate Professor, Appalachian Studies, Appalachian State University

Liza Piper, Associate Professor, History & Classics, University of Alberta

Julie Rak, Professor, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

Zac Robinson, Associate Professor, Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta; Vice-President for Mountain Culture, The Alpine Club of Canada

Joseph Siracky, web and graphic design

Stephen Slemon, Professor Emeritus, English & Film Studies, University of Alberta

William (Bill) Snow, Consultant, Stoney Tribal Administration, Stoney Nakoda Nation


Conference field trip 2015