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From Milano to Chur

Lorenzo Bagnoli is a lecturer in Geography at the University Milano-Bicocca in Italy. He spent a week teaching, meeting staff and discovering the area.

Usually, after one week in the Grisons the best memories are the wonderful Alpine peaks and glaciers, the fabulous sport activities, the high-class hotel trade, the excellent maluns and capuns, and of course the Swiss delicious chocolate. For a lecturer on his or her mobility week, things are a bit different, and here I am going to explain briefly why.

The relations between UAS Grisons and the University of Milano-Bicocca are quite close, not only because of the proximity between Switzerland and Italy, not only because Italian is one of the official languages of the Canton of Grisons, but also because their respective master’s courses in tourism are both parts of ITMN, the International Tourism Masters’ Network. Thanks to periodical meetings, common research and student exchanges, ITMN is in fact since years an extra-ordinary means to improve higher educational programmes in tourism all over the world.

Nonetheless, nothing is more useful for a scholar to improve his or her skills than a period of mobility, even if short, such as the one that I spent in Chur during last winter. Having the chance to teach and to do research in a university during some days is in fact a unique opportunity to know the courses, the students, the colleagues, and the staff better.

During these days, I was teaching ten hours of lessons to the bachelor and master’s courses in tourism, appreciating the attention and the incentives not only from the young students but also from the not-so-young colleagues who were listening to me. In particular, I held a focus group with the master’s students about ethical tourism that gave me very interesting inspirations for the follow-up of my research. I personally presented the master’s course in “Tourism, territory and local development” of Milano-Bicocca to the students and they seemed very attentive. In particular, they were interested in our workshop in “Tourism in fragile environments”, which is organised every year in our outpost in the Maldives islands.

Moreover, I had important meetings with the international office and with colleagues in charge of the mobility about the possibility to enhance the students’ exchange between our institutions. These are not so frequent because of the fact that Switzerland is not part of the “official” Erasmus programme, even if the Swiss mobility programme gives exactly the same opportunities to students and scholars. Unfortunately, the idea of a double degree between our universities doesn't seem to be feasible, but an entire semester in English to gain 30 credits or some weeks for research about their final dissertation will be warmly recommended to the students.

During the week, I had also interesting contacts with stakeholders and visited some of the local major tourism attractions, such as the Bernina Express, Brambrüesch, Maienfeld and the cantonal museums in Chur. In particular, I am now planning a research on Heididorf about literary, film-induced and TV-induced tourism, and some colleagues from UAS Grisons have manifested their interest in collaborating, and this will give an appreciable added value to the research.

To sum up, a very busy week, but sincerely fruitful for future collaborations at all levels. And, by the way, not without very nice dinners with maluns and capuns, surrounded by breath-taking landscapes, enjoying the famous, warm Swiss hospitality, and of course some very good chocolate in my suitcase!

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