Professor Hornbach took students from his first year class Lakes, Streams and Rivers on a 3 hour research cruise on Lake Superior on Sept. 18
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"My first-year course eased the transition to college by showing me the city that I would be living in for the next four years."
First Year Course: The Global in the Local
Vampires, Nazis, and Destruction: What do these three scary topics have in common? They’re all subjects of first-year courses offered by Macalester College.
Every first-year student at Mac must enroll in a four-credit first-year course, each limited to 16 students. The teacher becomes the academic adviser for the students enrolled in that class. Sometimes classmates even live together on the same residence hall floor, further increasing a sense of community.
Student are encouraged to choose these first-year courses based not on their intended majors but rather strictly on how interested they are in a topic.
As for those courses mentioned above? They’re more properly known as “Vampires: From Monsters to Superheroes,” a class full of novels and films offered by the German and Russian Studies Department; “German Cinema Studies: Representations of Nazis,” by the same department; and “Death, Devastation, War, Blood, Horror……and Mathematics,” taught by the Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department, a class that adopts a mathematical framework to better understand catastrophic phenomena crucial to human existence.
Following are a few more especially intriguing first-year classes from 2010:
- "Global Health and Emerging Infections," Anthropology Department
from the professor: "We will critically examine the unnatural history of infectious diseases from ancient times to the present day. We will consider the co-evolution of culture and disease: the ways that human subsistence, ecological disruptions, social inequalities, and demographic changes have created selective conditions for new infections, highly virulent infections, and antibiotic resistance."
- "Metropolis as Muse: Shanghai’s Urban Culture Through Literature, Film, and Art," Asian Studies Department
from the professor: "With its focus on literary texts, movies, and visual art, the course explores a variety of topics that are all intricately connected to China’s and Shanghai’s encounter with modernity."
- "Rivers, Lakes, and Streams" (With Field Trips!), Biology Department View photos
from the professor: "Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, is also home to numerous streams, rivers and wetlands. These freshwater systems are of great importance to humans, and native communities of plants and animals. We will examine the nature of these aquatic ecosystems."
- "Computing and Society: Exploring the Political and Social Structure of the Web," Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science Department
from the professor: "Over 400 million people have registered on Facebook. How and why do people join these virtual communities, and what makes people remain active participants? In this course you will develop computer programs that analyze social mechanisms underlying the Internet."
- "Studies in Literature: Faith and Doubt," English Department
from the professor: "Your education at Macalester will require you to think about what you can believe and what you must doubt in ways you never have before. Here you will be exposed to beliefs that differ from your own; just as significantly, your coursework will require you to master (or at least to inhabit) the forms of skepticism and certainty that constitute academic discourses. This course, a new version of English 125, takes faith and doubt as its explicit theme."
- "Screens" (From Hollywood Movies to Social Networking), Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies Department
from the professor: "We spend our lives staring at the screens of computers, smartphones, movies and televisions. The screen is one of the most important technological innovations of recent memory, for it has such a wide range of influences on our experience of the everyday. What impact do they have on our perception of the news, of others, of ourselves, of reality? Do screens, in fact, contribute to what Anne Friedberg has called a "dematerializing of
- "Music and Freedom," Music Department
from the professor: "This course intends to introduce students to the study of music (and, by association, the arts in general) from social, cultural, and critical perspectives, using the framework of human rights as a common theme."
- "The End of the World (As We Know It)," Religious Studies Department
from the professor: "The concept end evokes vivid, even violent images of the end of life as we know it on planet earth, sometimes even the end of time itself. This course will focus on these multiple meanings of “end” in regard to environmental ethics."