Interdisciplinary Emphases

Climate Science and Policy

Consensus is growing on the national and international scale that climate change is real and urgent action is needed. However, responses differ among policy makers and other actors about the methods we should use to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. This interdisciplinary core examines the climate change problem and the most effective policy and development options for carbon mitigation strategies. Students can opt for a core that weighs more heavily on either the science or policy dimensions.

5 required courses:

  • ENVI/PHYS 130 - Science of Renewable Energy (with Lab)
  • ENVI 140 - The Earth's Climate System (with Lab)
  • ENVI 150 - Climate and Society
  • ENVI/POLI 335 - Science and Citizenship
  • One Methods course – choose from:
    -- GEOL 294 - Paleoclimate
    -- GEOG 377 - Qualitative Research Methods in Geography
    -- GEOG 378 - Discipline and Methods – Spatial Statistics
    -- POLI 269 - Empirical Research Methods

2 elective courses:

  • ECON 119 - Principles of Economics (when taught by Amy Damon or Sarah West)
  • ENVI/ECON 231 - Environmental Economics and Policy
  • ENVI/GEOG 232 - People and the Environment
  • ENVI/GEOG 258 - Geography of Environmental Hazards
  • ENVI/INTL 368 - Sustainable Development and Global Future
  • GEOG/AMST 250 - Race, Place and Space
  • GEOG 294 - Paleoclimate (if not taken as a methods course)
  • Transfer credit for an upper level study away course with a climate change focus

Potential Study Away Options

  • HECUA - Minnesota – Environmental Sustainability: Science, Public Policy and Community Action
  • SIS – Iceland summer program
  • Macalester South Africa Program
  • SEA - Semester at Sea (Oceans and Climate voyage or other)

Community and Global Health

The emphasis in Community and Global Health (CGH) aims to connect the Environmental Studies major with the College’s Concentration in Community and Global Health. Environmental conditions are known to have a significant impact on human health. Students in the CGH emphasis receive an introduction to the issues involved in health issues and then can take a broad interdisciplinary approach to these issues or tailor the emphasis with a focus on science, social science or humanities.

3 required courses:

  • ANTH 239 - Medical Anthropology
  • BIOL 116 - Community and Global Health Biological Paradigms
  • GEOG 256 - Medical Geography

Any 3 of the Following:

  • BIOL 357 - Immunology
  • BIOL 358 - Microbiology
  • ENVI/HIST 237 - Environmental Justice
  • ENVI/POLI 335 - Science and Citizenship
  • EJVI/GEOG 258 - Geography of Environmental Hazards
  • GEOG 225 - Intro to GIS
  • MATH 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling
  • PHIL 227 - Bioethics
  • PHIL 294 - Human Rights and Health Care

1 required Methods course:

  • MATH 125 - Epidemiology

Environmental Justice

Poor and minority populations have historically borne the brunt of environmental inequalities in the United States, suffering disproportionately from the effects of pollution, dispossession of land, resource depletion, dangerous jobs, limited access to common resources, and exposure to environmental hazards. This interdisciplinary core focuses on the ways that race, ethnicity, class, and gender have shaped the political and economic dimensions of environmental injustices, along with more recent political movements pushing to rectify environmental injustices and to develop new possibilities for understanding the human place in nature.

3 required core courses:

  • ENVI/PHIL 229 - Environmental Ethics
  • ENVI/HIST 237 - Environmental Justice
  • GEOG 250 - Race, Space, and Place or AMST 294 - Placing Race and Seeing Social Inequality

    3 elective core courses:

    • AMST 103 - The Problems of Race in US Social Thought and Policy
    • ECON 342 - Economics of Poverty in the US
    • ENVI/POLI 231 - Environmental Economics and Policy
    • ENVI/ENGL 265 - Justice
    • ENVI/HIST 343 - Imperial Nature: The United States and the Global Environment
    • ENVI/INTL 368 - Sustainable Development and Global Future
    • GEOG 341 - Urban Social Geography: City Life and Landscapes
    • HIST 394 - Gender, Race and Health in the 20th Century U.S.

    1 required Methods course:

    • ANTH 230 - Ethnographic Interviewing
    • GEOG 225 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
    • MATH 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling

    Environmental Science

    From water scarcity to toxics exposure to climate change, scientific understanding is a crucial component of assessing and addressing the major environmental issues facing the world. This interdisciplinary emphasis provides a background in the physical and natural sciences most closely tied to environmental issues. Students also acquire further specialization in one area of their choosing.

    5 required core courses:

    • CHEM 111 – General Chemistry I
    • ENVI/GEOL 150 – Dynamic Earth and Global Change
    • ENVI/BIOL 285 – Ecology
    • MATH 155 – Intro to Statistical Modeling
    • PHYS 221 – Introductory Physics I, PHYS 226 - Principles of Physics I, or ENVI/PHYS 130 - Science of Renewable Energy

    3 elective core courses:

    • At least three other Science courses within one discipline (BIOL, CHEM, GEOL, PHYS)

    Environmental Thought and Values

    The interdisciplinary emphasis in Environmental Thought and Values is based on the premise that nature is not “natural” in any absolute sense; how we conceive nature, and how we interact with it, is contingent upon our constantly evolving imagination of the world around us. This emphasis examines the question of being in the environment in various temporal, cultural and theoretical frameworks. Drawing widely from the humanities, this emphasis encapsulates a range of environmental understandings and ethics, as evinced through the arts, philosophy, and history, and encourages students to examine paradigmatic environmental discourses and concepts, such as wilderness, conservation, preservation, consumerism, and sustainability.

    At least 5 of the following:

    • ENGL 294 – Poetry of Environment
    • ENGL 265 – Justice (with a research paper on an environmental theme)
    • ENVI/PSYC 172 - Psychology in a Material World
    • ENVI/HIST 236 – Consumer Nation: American Consumer Culture in the 20th Century
    • ENVI/HIST 237 – Environmental Justice
    • ENVI/ENGL 262 - Studies in Literature and the Natural World
    • ENVI/PSYC 270 - Psychology of Sustainable Behavior
    • ENVI/HIST 340 – U.S. Urban Environmental History
    • ENVI 614 – Independent Study (with an environmental focus)
    • RELI 294 - Ritual and Ecology in Southeast Asia

    1 of the following:

    • ENVI/GEOG 232 – People and the Environment
    • ENVI/POLI 335 - Science and Citizenship
    • ENVIANTH 365 – Environmental Anthropology

    1 Required Methods Course:

    • ENVI/PHIL 229 Environmental Ethics

    International Environment and Development

    This interdisciplinary emphasis focuses on the concept of sustainable development by tracing historical and contemporary understandings of wealth and resource distribution within and between countries.  These courses provide students with a grounding in the economic, political, and cultural conceptions of development, focusing on states in the Global South.

    1 required course:

    • ECON 119 - Principles of Economics (when taught by Amy Damon or Sarah West)

    5 elective core courses:

    • ANTH 363 - Anthropology of Development
    • ECON 426 - International Economic Development
    • ENVI/POLI 231 - Environmental Economics and Policy
    • ENVI/GEOG 232 - People, Agriculture and the Environment
    • ENVI/HIST 343 - Imperial Nature: The United States and the Global Environment
    • ENVI/INTL 368 - Sustainable Development and Global Future
    • ENVI 477/GEOG 488 - Comparative Environment and Development Studies
    • INTL 367 - Postcolonial Theory
    • POLI 242 - Development Politics (prerequisite required)

    1 Required Methods Course:

    • ANTH 230 - Ethnographic Interviewing
    • GEOG 225 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
    • POLI 269 - Empirical Research Methods

    Sustainable Design

    By marshaling natural resources in creative ways and on an unprecedented scale, industrial nations have developed new methods of converting the raw materials of nature--wood and metal, soil and water, coal and oil--into an economy capable of delivering fantastic comfort, abundance, and convenience to a steadily growing number of people. Yet the material advances of the industrial revolution are also directly responsible for many of the most serious environmental problems that now confront humanity. This interdisciplinary emphasis combines coursework at Macalester and DIS - Copenhagen to develop the skills of sustainable design: the active attempt to re-design the material world in ways that mitigate or eliminate the negative environmental impact of the buildings, products, and industrial systems on which the modern world relies. 

    • ART 130 – Drawing I
    • ART 235 – Sculpture I
    • ART 367 – 3D Design
    • DIS – Architecture Foundations Studio (or similar course on study away)
    • DIS – Sustainable By Design (or similar course on study away)
    • 2 Other Art or Architecture courses (from Macalester or on study away program)

    Students are also encouraged to take additional Math and Physics courses.