Bern, Switzerland

Hidden Players in the Food Chain

online course
when 16 August 2021 - 20 August 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee CHF 75

A healthy environment, including healthy soils, plants and animals, is essential for human well-being. One Health is an interdisciplinary framework that helps us to understand the processes that shape and connect global health.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, we have decided to operate the One Health International Bachelor and Master Summer School in distance learning mode in 2021. The virtual course offers a unique opportunity to explore the methods and current knowledge on the health of terrestrial food chains, from soils to plants, animals and humans. Students participating in the event will explore the interfaces between the different compartments and learn about health connections in agroecosystems.
Participants will:
- Explore connections between soil, plant, animal and human health in different food production systems.
- Experience cutting-edge research and connect with scientists during virtual visits to multiple research laboratories working on One Health projects.
- Team up with peers from all around the world and use their own skills as health detectives to find potential solutions to some of the most pressing problems of the future.

Course leader

Virtual teaching within the summer school is led by the following leading scientists of the University of Bern:
Professor Matthias Erb, Professor Sigi Hapfelmeier, Professor Adrien Mestrot, Professor Rupert Bruckmeier, Dr. Moritz Bigalke, Dr. Josef Gross

Target group

Bachelor students (third year) and masters’ students (first year) with a background in life sciences.
We aim to have a lively, international and interdisciplinary group of participants with a balanced number of students of both genders from different disciplines and from different countries.

Course aim

What are the benefits of attending the Summer School?

Experience health connections along the food chain in Switzerland
To explore connections between plant, animal and human health, participants will visit different food production systems in Switzerland, ranging from conventional to alternative permaculture. These visits are an excellent opportunity to discover Switzerland and learn about management strategies that promote healthy agroecosystems.

Get first-hand experience in cutting edge interdisciplinary research
The students will have the opportunity to connect with scientists working along the food chain, from soils to plants, to ruminants and humans. World-leading scientists together with their research teams will introduce the students to their work and efforts to promote healthy food chains. Visits will include presentations as well as visits and hands-on experience in different laboratories of the University of Bern.

Challenge yourself.
Develop your own solutions for important one-health challenges
During the week, you will follow a scientific story in several episodes. Use your own skills as a health detective to develop hypotheses about the storyline and solve the mystery. At the end of the week, the students will be given a challenge to work on in small teams. Combine your own knowledge, creativity and team spirit to find creative solutions to some of the most pressing problems of humanity. During the last day of the school, the teams will present their solutions to each other.

Have fun!
The summer school offers many opportunities to explore Switzerland and the city of Bern, to socialize with participants from all over the world and to meet One Health scientists in an informal, friendly setting.

Credits info

2 EC
Participants having successfully completed the Summer School will receive a certificate of attendance and can obtain 2 ECTS points. 2 ECTS correspond to 50 – 60 hours of work, consisting of preparatory work, full participation in the course and giving a short presentation at the end of the week. Acknowledgement of the ECTS points in the study programs at home institutions other than the University of Bern is the responsibility of the participants.

Fee info

CHF 75: Course fee waiver or reduction
For students experiencing financial hardship, for example:
those from a low-income family
a mature student with existing financial commitments
those with a disabilty
a student with a child or children, especially single parents


There will be travel grants available for international students, who travel to Bern by train.