Ignite: Switzerland Electives

Taking inspiration from the Swiss natural environment, the Ignite: Switzerland curriculum provides the perfect platform to embark on an exciting educational journey. This is a golden opportunity for students to develop their passions, or try something new, as they select a personalised pathway through the electives. Students select 2 electives to study in depth for 12 hours a week for 12 weeks. Their learning will culminate in a Passion Project, which they will share with their fellow students and teachers at HIF, and with their parents and classmates when they return to their respective colleges.

Nature Quest

Exploring our relationship with the natural world is a key component of this course. Students will act as detectives as they seek to find out more about the local environment, animals, and people. Visits to local farms, villages, forests, eco-businesses, and hotels will help the students learn more about the Engadin Valley and the animals and people who live there. With an in-depth study of eco-tourism or the National Park, students will learn the importance of branding and marketing and discover the industry’s opportunities and challenges. Students will meet with leaders in the field of sustainable tourism and social entrepreneurship.


Understanding the Natural World

The natural world inspires us all. It underpins our economy, our society, indeed our very existence. Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we irrigate our crops with. As nature is free, we often take it for granted. Students will learn to appreciate the value of the natural world through a combination of academic study and practical experience. Students will receive an introduction to the biodiversity of the region and the importance of conserving it. They will explore how animals interact with their alpine environment and how animal behaviour is shaped by external factors and stimuli. Students will learn how this is linked to the unique conservation model of the Swiss National Park and they will also learn how technology is being used to enhance conservation effectiveness. Eco-tourism will also be explored. There will be numerous field trips to local farms, glaciers, lakes and the UNESCO World Heritage Rhaetian railway.


Travels in Geology

Geology is the branch of science that deals with the Earth, its materials, and its processes; it answers questions about how the Earth came to have its present shape and form. On this course students will learn about the basic tectonic story behind the forces that have shaped the Lower Engadine Valley, where the school is situated. The complicated geology of the Alps is on full display along the valley’s well-marked trails. This will be a very practical course with equal time being spent in the classroom and hiking along the Engadine Valley. Students will learn about the distinctive characteristics of upland, lowland and glaciated landscapes in the Valley and the impact the climate and humans are having on it. Students will choose how they record what they are learning through the written word, sound recordings, drawings, photography and/or film.


Digital Developments: SDG Suite

The lines between the physical and digital world are increasingly blurred and rapid digitalisation is changing the natural environment. It is changing the way we observe, understand, and interact with our ecosystem. It is also changing the actions we take on environmental issues. There are three elements to this course: Smart Phone app design, Balsamiq wireframing and marketing. Students will be asked to produce an iPhone or android phone application for teenagers that brings awareness to one specific Sustainable Development Goal. Their app should bring awareness to the causes, effects, and progress of the specific goal in a structure that is insightful and fit for purpose. Once designed students will use wireframing software to bring the app to life. Finally, students will then learn marketing skills to promote their product. These will include developing a website, logo, business cards and doing a video pitch to a potential investor.


Art & the Environment 

Art generates individual and collective emotions that strengthen our connection to our natural world. As the Lower Engadine Valley is also known as the Valley of Light, it provides the perfect immersive backdrop for students to embrace nature and study the impact light has on the tress and mountains around them; this will be a key element of the course. The plethora of alpine flora and fauna within the immediate vicinity of the school will enable students to do either quick, detailed sketches or in-depth studies; the choice will be theirs. Students will also examine the relationship of people to natural and built environments by studying the landscape outside their window, and parks and historic buildings further afield. They will have the opportunity to work with local artists and learn techniques around colour, perspective and composition. Field trips will be an important element of the course which will include visits to the Swiss National Park, Biosfera Val Mustair, Parc Ela and Tarasp Castle in Scuol. 



What better way to make a difference than to create a film that educates your audience. Students will learn scriptwriting for a documentary as well as the process that precedes the creation of the documentary. They will learn how to choose the theme and the people they interview for the film to strike the right emotional chords of their intended audience. The course also covers the cinematic aspects of documentary making, along with the sound design needed to give appealing background music. The students will receive masterclasses from experts in the field of documentary filmmaking and learn tips from the best. This course will include visits to the Swiss National Park, St Moritz, a Hydo-power plant and a local eco–village. This course is designed for small groups of students to work collaboratively on a topic they feel passionately about connected to the natural environment. 


Digital Photography

Photography has the power to inspire and can lead to a change for the better. Students will be guided through different styles and techniques of photography, which will include: landscape, street, wildlife and ariel photography. Drones, smartphones and SLR cameras will be used with Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop as the software components. Exposure to different types of photography will enable students to see what style interests them and they will be encouraged to experiment in order to discover their own personal style.  To elevate the experience, students will have masterclasses from professional photographers, learning tips on how to create the best photograph. Visits to the Swiss National Park, Biosfera Val Mustair, Parc Ela and Tarasp Castle in Scuol will complement the course.


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