Interdisciplinary Emphases

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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.

4 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

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
  • GEOG 294 - Paleoclimate (if not taken as a methods course)
  • Transfer credit for an upper level study away course with a climate change focus

1 required 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

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)

Communication Studies

Communication of environmental ideas and beliefs by individuals, institutions, societies, and cultures are central to the definition and solution of environmental problems. This emphasis focuses on how environmental messages and media (traditional and social media) are crafted, distributed, and received.  This includes a wide range of themes including journalism, social marketing, risk communication and collaboration and conflict.

4 required courses:

  • MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies
  • MCST 114 - News Reporting and Writing
  • MCST 126 - Local News Media Institutions
  • MCST 357 - Advanced Journalism: Print

2 elective courses:

  • ART 294 – Intro to Digital Photography
  • ART 299 – Film Photography (St. Kate's)
  • ENVI/LING 225 - 100 Words for Snow: Language and Nature
  • MCST 247 - Documentary Film and Video
  • COJO 372 – Environmental Communications (with Mark Neuzil at UST)
  • COJO 480 – Communication Ethics (with Mark Neuzil at UST)

1 required Methods course:

  • MCST 128 - Film Analysis/Visual Culture

NOTE:  It is understood that students will seek out opportunities to develop environmental themes in their project/portfolio work in the non-ES courses.

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/GEOG 258 - Geography of Environmental Hazards
  • ENVI/POLI 335 - Science and Citizenship
  • GEOG 225 - Intro to GIS
  • MATH 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling
  • PHIL 220 - 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 Problem of Race in US Social Thought and Policy
    • ECON 342 - Economics of Poverty in the US
    • ENGL 265 - Justice
    • ENVI/POLI 231 - Environmental Economics and Policy
    • 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 160 – 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)

    Food Systems

    The food system emphasis allows focus on an interconnected set of biological, technological, economic, and social issues that connect to how food systems work.  Food system topics include small and large scale food production, access and consumption issues as well as a concern for the biophysical properties to agroecological systems.

    3 required courses:

    • BIOL 345 - Field Botany
    • ENVI/GEOG 232 - People, Agriculture and the Environment
    • ENVI/BIOL 285 - Ecology

    3 electives from this list in consultation with your advisor:

    • ENVI /POLI 252 - Water and Power
    • ENVI 294 – Dirt and Development
    • ENVI 294 – Food, Env. and Society
    • ENVI/ECON 333 - Economics of Global Food Problems (Amy Damon - there are Econ prereqs)
    • ENVI/POLI 335 - Science and Citizenship
    • ENVI/INTL 477 - Comparative Environment and Development Studies
    • HIST 239 - Farm and Forest: African Environmental History

    1 required Method courses:

    • TBD in consultation with your advisor.

    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)