Maymester in the Alps


INSTRUCTOR:  Professor Robert Barsky, College of Arts and Sciences; Vanderbilt Law School



Despite (or perhaps because of) the conservatism of the Swiss and the image of Switzerland as a place of political neutrality, banking and watch-making, the Swiss Alps have sheltered and inspired generations of radical creative and political work, by a host of artists, Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron), anarchists (Bakunin, Kropotkin and the Jura Federation), and, in Ascona, an incredible group of visiting artists and writers (Mary Wigman, Rudolph Laban, Hermann Hesse, D.H. Lawrence, Isadora Duncan, Carl Jung, Max Weber). One reason for this is that the conservative Switzerland is tightly-guarded, and ruled in accordance with international legal instruments and laws that have made it a safe haven for persecuted persons, and a fertile ground for international organizations charged with upholding human rights. Another reason is the sheer grandeur and impenetrability of the high Alps has led to the establishment of specific kinds of political regimes that have been largely protected by repeated incursions and allowed for a certain protective neutrality.

In this Maymester, Professor Robert Barsky will make this link between radicalism and creativity, safe haven and international law, medicine and international engagement, by exploring institutes, specialists and natural settings in the Swiss and French Alps and then in Florence and Rome, Italy. Beginning in Geneva, the students will be introduced to the international legal and non-governmental organizations that uphold international laws, notably the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations, UNICEF, the International Labor Organization, the World Trade Organization, Doctors Without Borders, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Students will meet with high-ranking officials from those organizations, and witness firsthand the kinds of work that is directed from the Geneva offices.

We will then travel to the ‘Magical Mountain’, Monte Verità, in Ticino, Switzerland. There we will encounter the amazing community of people who lived in an alternative community from 1900-1920. Anarchist physician Raphael Friedeberg, Hermann Hesse,Carl Jung, Erich Maria Remarque, Hugo Ball, Isadora Duncan, Paul Klee, Rudolf Steiner, Mary Wigman, Rudolf von Laban, Frieda and Else von Richthofen, Otto Gross, Erich Mühsam, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Walter Segal, Max Weber, and Gustav Nagel.

From there we’ll follow in the footsteps of Percy Shelley and Byron up to Murren, to hike up to the sublime heights that have inspired so many artists, writers, painters and philosophers including Dorothy and William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, John Turner, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Friedrich Nietzche and others. From there we head to Geneva, to study Dadaism, and then a stop in Florence, at the Migration Policy Center, and the European University Institute.

We will complete our work in Rome by returning to refugee and migration studies, and we’ll be introduced to the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, the International Organization for Migration Rome office, the Migration, Asylum and Social Integration Center, and other migration organizations in the country that is at the flashpoint of the current crises.

ELIGIBILITY: NO PREREQUISITES. The program is open to all students in good academic standing, and with consent of instructor AXLE: INT

FEES: Cost per student is TBD.  Fees include tuition, accommodation, most breakfasts, and public transportation between sites, some cultural activities and HTH health insurance.  It does not include regular meals, incidental expenses, and airfare (BNA-Geneva), for which a common itinerary will be developed.

ITINERARY: The instructor will develop a common itinerary for students in this course. Students are responsible for their own airfare.

CREDITS: 3 HOURS. This course is listed as INTERNATIONAL credit in AXLE.

Course Material:

Law of Refugee Status, by James HATHAWAY, ISBN: 9781107688421
Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816, David Ellis

Some interesting websites:
Check out all of the UN websites, they have a wealth of information:

Additional reading cases and the normative texts are available at: as well as Further cases and information are to be found at and at

Sample itinerary (2017 trip):

DATES: May 7-13, Geneva; May 16-19, Chamonix; May 19-24, Mürren; May 24-26, Zurich; May 26-June 2nd, Rome and Vatican City

May 7-13, Geneva, Hôtel Cornavin, Gare de Cornavin, 1201 Genève, T: ++41 22 716 12 12 Fax: +41 22 716 12 00,;

Sunday May 7th

4PM meet on the top floor of Hotel Cornavin, for orientation, followed by a tour, beginning at 4:30, of Geneva. Sigi Muller, Genève Escapade. Sigi Muller <>;  Genève-Escapade <>

7PM: Fondue and Raclette supper with the Dunant Tour Guide.

Monday May 8th

10AM Ms. Lucinda O’Hanlon  Adviser on Women’s Rights and Gender Section, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Palais Wilson, Room RS-181, 52 rue des Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

2:30PM World Trade Organization / WTO, Rue de Lausanne, 154, Case postale 1211, Genève 2, Switzerland. Tel: +41 (0)22 739 51 11

Tuesday May 9th

9AM-5PM United Nations
· Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)
· European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
· International Labour Organization (ILO)
· International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
· Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
· Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
· United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
· United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
· United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
· World Food Programme (WFP)
We will also arrange a guided tour of the Palais des Nations, UN Office at Geneva, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, Email, Phone (41-22) 917-2302; (41-22) 917-2325

Wednesday May 10th

9AM-5PM World Health Organization, Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Genève 27, Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 791 21 11
Venue: library meeting room
09.15 – 10.00                    Introduction WHO and Zika – Christian Lindmeier, WHO Spokesperson (in SHOC)
10.15 – 11.00                    Pandemic Outbreak and Response – Anais Legand, Technical Officer, High Threat Pathogens
11.00 – 11.30                    Break
11.30 – 12.15                    Mass gatherings – Jetri Regmi
12.15 – 14.00                    Lunch
14.00 – 14.45                    Polio Eradication, Leilia Dore, Communications Officer, Polio Eradication Initiative
15.15 – 16.15                    Adolescent Health – Venkatram Chandra-Mouli, Scientist, Adolescents and at-Risk Populations

Thursday May 11th

9:30-noon, ICRC, Bea Vanhove, Odile de Lastelle, Cindy Morel, Sophie Voirol. The program will contain the viewing of an introduction film and two presentation-discussions, respectively about the ICRC activities in the field and International humanitarian law.  Visitors’ Service, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) , 19, avenue de la Paix, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Email: visit@icrc.orgT +41 22 730 21 49 

2PM-4PM, UNHCR,  Ms. Angelika Montillot, Coordinator, UNHCR Visitors’ Centre, Divison of External Relations, UNHCR, 94, rue de Montbrillant, 1211 Genève, Suisse Office: +41 22 739 8606 or 8812, Fax: +41 22 739 7316, E mail:

Friday May 12th

9AM-noon, Doctors Without Borders, HU Yuan Qiong, Senior Legal & Policy Advisor , Médecins Sans Frontières | Access Campaign, 78 Rue de Lausanne, CH-1211 Geneve 21, Switzerland, T: +41- 022 849 8481 | M: +41- 076 228 9178 | Skype: huyuanqiong, Email:; Web: |

2PM Visit to Chateau Chillon, Montreux, on the ferry.

Saturday, May 13th, Geneva and Chamonix

1:30PM Mélanie Exquis, Responsable de la médiation culturelle, Fondation Martin Bodmer, + 41 (0) 22 707 44 36

6:30 PM Travel to Chamonix

Saturday, May 13-Friday, May 19th, Chamonix

Hôtel Bistro Bar Pointe Isabelle – 165 avenue Michel-Croz – 74400 Chamonix Mont Blanc – France T. +33 (0)4 50 53 12 87

Friday, May 19th-Wednesday, May 24th, Murren

Hotel Alpenruh, Schilthornbahn AG, CH-3825 Mürren, Tel: +41 33 856 88 00, Fax: +41 33 856 88 88, E-Mail:, Internet:; Your target:

Wednesday, May 24th-Friday, May 26th, Zurich

The Central Plaza Hotel, Central 1, CH-8001 Zürich; Direktwahl: +41 44 256 56 70 Tel.: +41 44 256 56 56; Fax.:+41 44 256 56 57

May 24th, 4PM.  Tour of the Jung Institute. Director of Studies, Mr Cramm, will give you and your group a short tour through our Institute on May 24th. Ronja Hübscher
Empfang / Front Office , C.G. Jung-Institut Zürich, Küsnacht , Hornweg 28, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Tel. +41 44 914 1040, Fax +41 44 914 1050 /

May 25th, 10AM. Tour of Cabaret Voltaire, and visits to sites associated with Dadaism all around Zurich, with Adrian Notz.

Friday, May 26th-Friday, June 2nd, Rome

Hilton Garden Hotel, Simona Filippi, Sales Executive, Gruppo Roscioli Hotels Roma, Tel +39 06 44875220, Fax +39 06 4457205, cid:image001.gif@01C9A33D.666BC080,,

Saturday, May 27th 8AM: L’eccezionale apertura al pubblico, nel 2014, delle Ville Pontificie di Castel Gandolfo (a 24 chilometri da Roma), ha permesso di ampliare l’offerta culturale rivolta ai visitatori singoli che desiderino scoprire e conoscere meglio i tesori artistici e naturalistici del Vaticano. Tutti i sabati, un moderno e confortevole treno elettrico, collega l’antica stazione ferroviaria della Città del Vaticano con le Ville Pontificie per una visita Full Day che, partendo dalle meraviglie dei Musei Vaticani, e attraverso le rarità botaniche dei Giardini Vaticani, condurrà il visitatore alla scoperta del lussureggiante Giardino Barberini di Castel Gandolfo. “Vaticano Full Day in treno è pensato anche per le famiglie con bambini. Approfitta delle riduzioni previste dalla Tariffa FamilyItinerario “Vaticano Full Day in treno”: Musei Vaticani, Cappella Sistina, Giardini Vaticani, Giardino Barberini (Ville Pontificie di Castel Gandolfo).
8.00 Ingresso riservato skip the line e visita libera – con audioguida multilingue dedicata – dei Musei e della Cappella Sistina.
10.00 Trasferimento a piedi attraverso i Giardini Vaticani con audioguida multilingue dedicata.
11.00 Viaggio di andata, partenza dalla stazione ferroviaria della Città del Vaticano, su treno elettrico dedicato, con destinazione Ville Pontificie.
Transfer, in navetta riservata, da Castel Gandolfo alle Ville Pontificie.
12.30 Tour su mezzo ecologico (su gomma) del Giardino Barberini (Villa Pontificia Barberini) con audioguida multilingue dedicata.
13.30 Termine del tour e uscita dalle Ville Pontificie.
17.10 Transfer, in navetta riservata, dalle Ville Pontificie alla stazione di Castel Gandolfo.
17.24 Viaggio di ritorno, partenza dalla stazione ferroviaria di Castel Gandolfo, su treno elettrico dedicato, con destinazione Roma San Pietro.

Monday, May 29th,

9AM-5PM, IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean
9:00 – 10:00, Introduction. Welcoming remarks; Tour de table; Introduction to IOM
Paola Alvarez, Project Development Officer
10:00 – 11:00 Session 1: What do we know about migration, and how we perceive and represent migrants?
1.1 Data on migration
1.2 Communications
Shiraz Jerbi, Aware Migrants Project Manager and Chiara Di Maio, Communications Assistant
11:00 – 11:30
Coffee break
11:30 – 12:30
Session 2: Migration from a humanitarian angle
2.1 Saving lives: search and rescue at sea operations
Flavio Di Giacomo, Spokesperson
2.2 Health and migration
12:30 – 14:00
Lunch break
14:00 – 15:00
Session 3: Assisting vulnerable migrants
3.1 Trafficking in human beings: an overview
3.2 Family tracing
15:00 – 15:15
Coffee break
15:15 – 16:15
Session 4: Integration as a pre-condition of development
4.1 Integration
4.2 Migration and Development
Serena Matarese, JPO, Migration and Development

Tuesday, May 30th

10:30-1PM, UNIDROIT Frederique Mestre (Ms/Mme), Senior Legal Officer, will offer an overview on Unidroit and a focus on our work related to the protection of cultural property – Unidroit, Via Panisperna 28, 00184 Roma Italy, (00-39) 06 6962138,

2:30-5PM, IFAD We will meet in order to give students the opportunity to learn more about IFAD – both a specialized United Nations Agency and an international financial institution, a provisional programme covering topics such as food security and nutrition, sustainability, environment and climate change. Enza Falco, Broadcast Communication Officer, Communications Division, Office of President/Vice President, Via Paolo di Dono 44 00142 Rome, Italy. Tel. +39 06 54592033 – Mobile +39 3351872257; Fax + 39 06 54593033

3PM Tickets for Papal Visit, Via dell’Umiltà, 30 on the Tuesday afternoon before the Audience between 3-6 pm. Via Dell’Umiltà, 30, is very near to the Trevi Fountain. From the Trevi Fountain, facing it, look to the left and you will see the store “Giorgios”. Take the street to the left of the store, called Via Delle Muratte. Then, take the first left (after “Blue Ice”) onto Via Delle Vergini (the street sign is difficult to see). Follow Via Delle Vergini until you see the street Via Dell’Umiltà. Take a left onto Via Dell’Umiltà. On your right you will shortly see a large door with an arch over it, # 30 (not 30a or 30b). There is a plaque that says “The Pontifical North American College”. That is our office! To receive your tickets, it is necessary to present either an American passport or a driver’s license, and a copy of this email when you come to pick up your tickets.

Wednesday, May 31st

10AM Papal audience.Bishops’ Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican, Via dell’Umiltà, 30 – 00187 Rome, Tel (calling from USA):, FAX (faxing from USA):, e-mail:

1:30-5PM A visit to IDLO including a brief presentation on their work Flaminia Battistelli, Sr. External Relations Officer – External Relations  IDLO  |  International Development Law Organization, Viale Vaticano 106, Rome, Italy 00165, tel: +39 06 4040 3260  

Thursday, June 1st

10AM-1PM Dicastery for Promoting  Integral Human Development. On behalf of His Eminence Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of this Dicastery, His Excellency Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi can meet your group on the 1st June, in our office (Piazza San Calisto, 16 – Trastevere). Mr. Yuriy Tykhovlis, Ph.D. Dicastery for Promoting  Integral Human Development, Palazzo San Calisto – 00120 Vatican City, tel.: 06.698.79929 / fax: 06.698.87205,

1:30-3:00, Vatican Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace .

4PM-6PM  Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which has been merged with 3 others (P.C. Cor Unum, P.C. Migrants, P.C. for Health Pastoral Care).
Palazzo San Calisto, Piazza San Calisto, 16(Trastevere area) door 4, 1st floor (or ground floor).
Flaminia Giovanelli

 Friday June 2nd

Discussions, and Departure!