Academic Departments

The information contained in this section is written specifically to address common concerns and interests of new students and to give general information about academic departments.

We encourage you to call or email the faculty members designated by each department with your specific questions about their course offerings, recommended sequences, or requirements for majors, minors or concentrations.


For general questions, contact the Academic Programs Office at 651-696-6036, or the Registrar’s Office at 651-696-6200 or visit the Registrar’s webpage.

Academic Departments/Programs A-H  Academic Departments/Programs I-W 
African Studies Interdepartmental Program
American Studies
Art and Art History
Asian Languages and Cultures
Community and Global Health
Critical Theory
Educational Studies
Environmental Studies
French and Francophone Studies
German Studies
Hispanic and Latin American Studies
Human Rights and Humanitarianism
International Development
International Studies
Latin American Studies Program
Legal Studies Program
Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
Media and Cultural Studies
Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization
Neuroscience Studies
Physical Education
Political Science
Premedical Program
Religious Studies
Russian Studies
Theatre and Dance
Urban Studies
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies



The interdepartmental program in African Studies offers a concentration that consists of six Africa-related courses. The broad theme of the African Studies concentration is Africa in a global context, recognizing the faculty’s desire to instill an understanding of the continent’s internal and external forces. Students are encouraged to take courses that help them place the region in its proper historical and global political economic context while understanding its intellectual, cultural and biophysical energies. Given that students and faculty approach African Studies from many disciplinary perspectives, the program allows students to begin this concentration from a variety of entry points. Please check individual department listings or the program website for such courses. The program promotes breadth by requiring courses in several departments, and depth by requiring a lengthy Africa-related paper in an existing senior seminar or independent study. Many African Studies concentrators study abroad for a semester in Africa. The concentration provides many opportunities for faculty and students to come together around a shared intellectual interest. Recommended courses for new students include: History of Africa since 1800 (History 115), Geography of Africa: Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context (Geography 243) and African Music (MUSI 131).

David Moore

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The Department of American Studies at Macalester College serves as the academic focal point for the study of race and ethnicity in a national and transnational frame. The Department provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of racial categories and racialized experiences in the United States by encouraging close and systematic examination of a wide range of cultural and political narratives, and by creating structured opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in concrete settings of civic engagement.

As the field of American Studies has evolved in the last fifty years, it has shifted from an emphasis on American exceptionalism to consider broad questions of nation, national identity, and difference. American Studies embraces a range of methodologies to consider such complex issues as how we define borders, who is a citizen, and how movements for social change have shaped society. At the start of the 21st century, the President of the American Studies Association, Michael Frisch, underscored the centrality of multiculturalism to the field. “The third axis [of American Studies] is the transformative exploration of multiculturalism, ethnicity, race, class, and gender that has been recasting for several decades now the most basic outlines of American history and culture as a contested, interactive field of forces. It almost goes without saying, but not quite, that this has not simply altered our understanding of things “within” American culture and society, but has been leveraging our capacity to re-imagine the connections of the U. S. and its peoples to everything and everyone else in the world. . .”

Our emphasis is on race as a central dimension of U.S. social, political, cultural and economic life. This reflects an understanding that the prevailing concepts of citizenship, community, freedom and individuality in the United States contain within them deep fissures, erasures, and conflicts that depend upon particular constructions of race and racial difference. To move "past race" at this historical moment would be to ignore these conflicts and, in effect, to defuse ongoing struggles for social justice. In stressing the continuing significance of race, we take our cues from the rich and generative scholarship in African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, Queer Studies, critical race theory, cultural studies, and transnational, postcolonial and diaspora studies.

We expect our majors will be able to:

  • Articulate some of the many ways in which racial categories and racialized experiences shape U.S. social life;
  • Identify and work with different conceptual and theoretical approaches to the study of race and ethnicity, including historical, sociological, and cultural perspectives;
  • Demonstrate proficiency with a range of research tools;
  • Perform as knowledgeable interlocutors in settings of civic engagement; and
  • Display excellence in all aspects of academic life.

We encourage our students to take advantage of study abroad or away programs or the many interesting possibilities for internships. The department offers both a major and a minor. You can decide to double major in American Studies and any other discipline of your choice (or major/minor), for example, history or political science. Cross-listed classes enable you to count credits in both disciplines. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Duchess Harris (department chair)

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Anthropology is the study of humankind in all of its aspects, cultural and biological, across both space and time. The discipline consists of four sub-fields: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology (which collectively examines the cultural aspects of human existence now and in the past) and biological (or physical) anthropology, which studies human physical variation and the evolution of the genus Homo. This holistic approach to understanding human beings is a distinctive attribute of the discipline and places it at the nexus of the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities, making it the most interdisciplinary of the fields of study Macalester has to offer. Anthropology thus provides a broad, comparative perspective on what it means to be human. At Macalester, the anthropology program stresses two of the four fields described above: cultural anthropology and biological anthropology, and emphasizes training in anthropological methods.

The department offers four courses that are open to new students with no prior training in anthropology. They are General Anthropology (ANTH 101), which introduces the student to all four sub-fields of the discipline; Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 111), Biological Anthropology (ANTH 115) and Archeology and Human Evolution (ANTH 112). Either Anthropology 101 or 111 can be taken as a prerequisite for upper level courses in Cultural Anthropology; Anthropology 112 or 115 serves as a prerequisite for further study in Biological Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology generally requires that students write papers in addition to taking examinations; requirements vary in other courses. New students interested in exploring the major may choose from any of these courses. Consult the department chair before registering for more advanced courses.

In order to major in anthropology, a student must take 10 courses and complete a semester of study off-campus (at home or abroad). A student may petition the department to be exempted from the study away requirement. The courses taken must include Anth 111 (Cultural Anthropology) or Anth 101 (General Anthropology), Anth 230 (Ethnographic Interviewing), Anth 487 (Theory in Anthropology), one course selected from among Anth 112, 115, 240 or 340 (the Biological Anthropology requirement) and Anth 490 (Senior Seminar) plus five electives. Students wishing to major should consult with a member of the department.

Olga Gonzalez

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The Art and Art History Department provides students the opportunity to create and study works of art. Studio classes are offered in Painting, Drawing, Design, Printmaking, Sculpture, Photography and Ceramics, while Art History courses focus on the historical, social and cultural aspects of artistic production. The Art and Art History Department offers majors with emphases in art history and studio art. A dual degree Architecture Program is also available. New students are welcome to take courses in any medium or area of art history at the entry level and nonmajors are welcome. Contact individual faculty to inquire about upper level courses with pre-requisites. Additional information can be found on the department website,

Mark Holte

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The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures serves as a home for the study of Asia, both for broad comparative and cultural studies of the history, geography, literature, film, art, music, and society in Asia, and for the more focused study of Japanese or Chinese language and culture. The department thus offers an interdisciplinary major and minor in Asian Studies (with a focus on China, Japan, or South Asia), a major and minor in Chinese Language and Culture, and a major and minor in Japanese Language and Culture. See the department website at for more information on the structure of each major and about the faculty and fields of study involved.


The department offers both Chinese language and culture courses. There are four levels of language instruction offered: first-year, second-year, third-year, and fourth-year. We also offer “Chinese in Context,” which is a culture course that requires the fifth-year level linguistic skills. Students with prior background in the study of Chinese may be placed in one of these levels based on their performance on a placement test that measures the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The culture courses offered in the department include literature, film, and translation courses. See the department website at for information about the courses, faculty, and structure of the major and minor.


To fulfill the language requirement in Chinese a student must attain proficiency at the level equivalent to the completion of CHIN 204, Second Year Chinese II. Students may take the sequence of Chinese courses through CHIN 204 (CHIN 101, 102, 203 and 204) or they may demonstrate that they have achieved equivalent proficiency by earning an appropriate score on AP, IB, or SAT II. Students who wish to enroll in a level higher than First Year Chinese I (CHIN 101) should take a placement test to determine the appropriate level. Students with prior background in Chinese should proceed to register for the level they think is suitable, and then arrange to take a placement test during orientation (8:00AM on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in Neill Hall 111). The results of the placement test may or may not require a move to another class. Contact Professor Xin Yang for information about the placement test.

Xin Yang


The department offers both Japanese language and culture courses. There are four levels of language instruction offered: first-year, second-year, third-year, and fourth-year. Students with prior background in the study of Japanese may be placed in one of these levels based on their performance on a placement test that measures the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The culture courses offered in the department include literature, film, linguistics, and translation courses. See the department website at for information about the courses, faculty, and structure of the major and minor.


To fulfill the language requirement in Japanese a student must attain proficiency at the level equivalent to the completion of Japanese 204, Second Year Japanese II. Students may take the sequence of Japanese courses through Japanese 204 (Japanese 101, 102, 203 and 204) or they may demonstrate that they have achieved equivalent proficiency by earning an appropriate score on AP, IB, or SAT II. Students who wish to enroll in a level higher than First Year Japanese I (Japanese 101) should take a placement test to determine the appropriate level. Students with prior background in Japanese should proceed to register for the level they think is suitable, and then arrange to take a placement test during orientation (8:00AM on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in Neill Hall 110). The results of the placement test may or may not require a move to another class. Contact Professor Satoko Suzuki for information about the placement test.

Satoko Suzuki

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If you are considering a major in biology you should take at least one of the four core courses listed below during your first year. If you can get into one of the courses during the fall semester, then you can take a second one during spring semester.

Core Courses:

  • Biology 260 Genetics
  • Biology 265 Cell Biology
  • Biology 270 Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Biology 285 Ecology

These required courses may be taken in any order, however, Biology 265 (Cell Biology) should be taken in the sophomore year after a year of chemistry. Note: Biology 255 (Cell Biology & Genetics Laboratory) must be taken concurrently with either Biology 260 or 265.

If you are planning to major in biology, we strongly advise you to begin the general chemistry sequence (Chemistry 111 General Chemistry I) during the first semester.

Students considering a major in biology and interested in taking a math course should take Math 135 (Applied Multivariable Calculus I), Math 137 (Applied Multivariable Calculus II), or Math 237 (Multivariable Calculus III), depending on the individual’s preparation in calculus. Students should contact the Math Department for advice as to which course they should take.

Students who received a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) biology exam or a score of 5 or better on the International Baccalaureate (IB) biology exam will receive 4 or 8 credits, respectively, in general biology. These credits will count toward the credit total required for graduation, but may not be used toward a biology major or minor, or in fulfilling the distribution requirement in natural sciences and mathematics. Upon consultation with the department chair, biology students with such test scores may be exempt from taking one of the core biology courses (Biology 260, 265, 270 or 285). Those wishing such an exemption are required to substitute for that requirement an intermediate level laboratory course in the area of the exemption.

Mark Davis

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Chemistry 111 (General Chemistry I) and 112 (General Chemistry II) together provide an in-depth introduction to modern chemical ideas and serve as a foundation for all future study in this field. Chemistry 115 (Accelerated General Chemistry) is an advanced course aimed at students intending to major in chemistry; it covers key topics from both Chemistry 111 and 112 in a single semester. Chemistry 111 and 115 are offered only in the fall, and Chemistry 112 is offered only in the spring.

All entering students considering majors in chemistry or biology, and those seeking admission to medical school upon graduation, should take chemistry in their first year. Most students will take Chemistry 111 in their first semester. Students who possess strong mathematical skills and either took advanced chemistry in high school or did exceptionally well in standard high school chemistry are encouraged to enroll in Chemistry 115. Students who learned the topics of Chemistry 111 (atomic structure, bonding, and quantitative treatment of equilibria, including acid-base chemistry) prior to arriving at Macalester may wish to consider placing directly into Chemistry 112 and skipping 111.

Adequate preparation for Chemistry 115, or for waiving the prerequisite requirement for 112, may be demonstrated by any of the following:

  • A score of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement (AP) test
  • A score of 5 or higher on either the higher level (HL) or standard level (SL) Chemistry International Baccalaureate (IB) exam
  • Satisfactory performance on the online chemistry placement test

In addition to advanced placement, students with an HL IB Chemistry score of 5 or higher may receive transfer credit for Chemistry 111 if they request it from the Registrar and document their accomplishments in their IB course. The same holds for students with an AP Chemistry score of 4 or 5 whose AP course laboratory notebook has been examined and approved by either the Chemistry Department Chair or Lab Supervisor. This credit is retained even if the student completes Chemistry115.

Students seeking advanced placement in Chemistry, either through the on-line placement test this summer or due to IB/AP scores, should contact the Chemistry Department Lab Supervisor, Robert Rossi, by email at .

Keith Kuwata

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The Macalester Department of Classics is one of the most active classics departments in the nation among leading liberal arts colleges. The department teaches courses in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic as well as many courses pertaining to Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern culture and civilization.

There are three tracks through the classics major: Classical Civilization, Classical Archaeology, and Classical Languages. The department specializes in the history, cultures, politics and religions of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern worlds. Students engage the diverse worlds of antiquity through a variety of media, including ancient texts, texts in translation, art, architecture, iconography, and material culture, and through the disciplinary approaches of literature, history and archaeology.

The classics department regularly hosts international conferences and speakers on the Macalester campus, including Middle East peace summits. We host a chapter of the Eta Sigma Phi honor society and organize visits to museums, theatrical productions, special exhibits, and the like. Students have held local internships at the Science Museum, Minnesota Institute of Arts, and the Minnesota History Museum.

We advise new students interested in classics to begin or continue to study one of our languages. We also encourage you to enroll in one of our introductory level (100s) civilization courses. 


All four languages offered by the classics department (Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Latin) fulfill the College’s language requirement. To fulfill this requirement in any of the classical languages, students must successfully complete the equivalent of four (4) semesters of college level study in a single language. For those with some experience in these languages, placement into a language level is done through an interview with a department faculty member during orientation or the first week of class. Specific guidelines for students with experience in Latin are found below.


The department regularly directs study abroad programs in summer and/or January.
Recent and upcoming study abroad opportunities with members of the department include:
Rome and Pompeii, Alexandria and Cairo, Israel and Palestine.


Rather than administer a placement exam, the Macalester classics department prefers to place students into our Latin program on the basis of either the number of years they have studied Latin previously, or their performances on an Advanced Placement Latin exam. The guidelines for these are listed below. If there are further questions, please contact Professor Overman at 651-696-6375 ().

Latin Program Primer: Every fall, we offer the first semester of elementary (Classics 111) and the first semester of intermediate (Classics 231: Prose). Every spring, we offer the second semester of elementary (Classics 212) and the second semester of intermediate (Classics 232: Poetry). Every other year we offer advanced Latin (Classics 483). Contact the department for further information on these advanced options.

Placement Based on Course Experience
For those who have not taken an AP exam, students with two years of high school Latin or less are strongly encouraged to begin again with the first semester of elementary. Some material will be review, but review is good, and is far superior to feeling lost. Students with three years of high school Latin may consider starting at the second semester of elementary, which usually begins with participles and the subjunctive mood. (Note, however, that the first semester is offered only in the fall, the second only in the spring; therefore, if you discover that the second semester is too hard, you’ll have to wait until the following fall to take up Latin.) Students with more than three years experience may enroll in the first semester of intermediate to find out if this level is appropriate, but many may find that they prefer to drop back into the second semester of elementary in the spring.

Placement Based on Advanced Placement Exam
College credit is obtainable only through the Latin AP exam. For a score of 4 or 5, a student earns credit for a course equivalent to the first semester of intermediate Latin. In order to fulfill the college language requirement, students need to take the second semester of intermediate in the spring. If they would like some grammatical review and have not read much prose, however, students are strongly encouraged to enroll in the first semester of the intermediate in the fall.

Students who earn a 3 receive credit for a course equivalent to the second semester of elementary Latin. They should enroll in the first semester of intermediate (Latin 231: Prose). They will be able to complete the college language requirement by taking one year of intermediate Latin.

Students who earn below a 3 should begin again with Classics 111.

Finally, anyone with experience in Latin who intends to pursue Classics more broadly while at Macalester is strongly encouraged to begin their study of ancient Greek during their first year.

We look forward to seeing you around the Classics department!

Andy Overman

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The concentration in Community and Global Health provides students with an array of analytical frameworks for understanding the complexities of population health and offers opportunities to integrate and apply these frameworks within the context of course work, civic engagement, and independent research. The concentration builds on the strong ties between the liberal arts and the core concepts of public health—a diverse, multidisciplinary field unified around the examination of human and animal health at the population level.

For additional information, please consult Community and Global Health.

Jaine Strauss (program director)

Devavani Chatterjea (program director)

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This concentration provides students an opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of Critical Theory, one of the most influential movements in inciting thought and society to critical self-reevaluations.

Critical Theory can be described as the application of philosophical thought to cultural and social phenomena with the aim of identifying formations of knowledge and the relations of power underlying them and making them possible. It is, therefore, defined not through the objects analyzed—which are found across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and even natural sciences—but through its distinctive methodology.

A concentration in Critical Theory consists of a total of 24 credits: five (5) courses—selected from two lists of courses: Core Courses and Elective Courses—and one (1) course or project that involves a major research paper.

For more information and specific courses offered, please visit Critical Theory.

Most of the critical theory courses offered in the fall semester are appropriate for new students (regardless of course number), and students are encouraged to contact the instructor of the course they are interested in. 

For question regarding the CT Concentration, please contact the director of the Program.

Kiarina Kordela

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Principles of Economics (Econ 119) is a prerequisite to most other courses in the department and is intended for majors and non-majors alike. Once students complete Econ 119, the next step is to take a “200A level” course in which economic principles are applied to specific areas of interest, such as international economics, environmental economics, financial economics or the economics of gender. Thus, a student who believes he/she has already completed the equivalent of Econ 119 should register for a 200A-level course. However, they should check with the department chair soon after arrival on campus to be sure this is the right choice. (If in doubt, students intending on majoring in economics should register for Econ 119. Subsequent courses will build on this foundation, and it’s important that the foundation be solid!)

Students considering an economics major should also take as much math as possible. Economics majors are required to take statistics and calculus. In most instances Math 155 (Introduction to Statistical Modeling) and Math 137 (Applied Multivariable Calculus II) are the most appropriate choices for fulfilling these requirements. For students who are not comfortable with math, Math 135 (Applied Multivariable Calculus I) is an acceptable alternative to Math 137.

The department website offers more information about the economics major, including information on career preparation, internships, and student organizations. For further information during the summer months:

Pete Ferderer

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Educational Studies is an interdisciplinary field centered on social inquiry, imagination, and advocacy. The major includes participation in thematically related courses (32 credits), civic engagement experiences, and completion of an advanced integrative project. Students may select from one of two emphases – Teaching & Learning or Education & Society.

The Teaching & Learning emphasis is designed to support students interested in entering the teaching profession. Students may begin their teacher education at Macalester and then complete their preparation through a variety of different programs immediately after graduation. Areas of teaching supported include a broad spectrum of licenses serving public school students on elementary, secondary, and K-12 levels. The Teaching & Learning track also provides excellent preparation for students intending to enter teaching through programs that do not require state licensing such as Urban Teaching Fellows, World Teach, Peace Corp, JET, Montessori or Waldorf training, adult basic or ESL education, museum education, artists-in-residence, community education, etc.

The Education & Society emphasis provides opportunities for interdisciplinary exploration of pressing social and educational issues on local, national, and international levels. Students selecting this track begin by proposing an integrative theme. Suggested themes include: Education, Equity & Diversity, Education Policy, Environmental Education, Urban Education, Civic Education, Youth Development, Media Literacy, Aesthetic Education, Feminism & Education, International/Development Education, Education for Social Justice, and individually designed focal areas.

Students majoring in Educational Studies are also required to complete a supporting Major relevant to either their interests in teaching or their selected integrative theme. A 20-credit Minor provides opportunities for students to explore their interests in Educational Studies without committing to completion of a second major.

Ruthanne Kurth-Schai

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New students considering an English major should begin with a course numbered between 105 and 194. Except for 150, all of these courses are a prerequisite for literature courses numbered 300 and above. All of the 100’s courses and most of the 200’s are recommended for non-majors as well. There are no prerequisites for 100 level courses and no prerequisites for 200 level literature courses. All creative writing courses above the 100 level have a prerequisite of ENGL 150, Introduction to Creative Writing

Students considering an English major emphasizing creative writing should also begin their work in creative writing sometime during the first year. English 150, Introduction to Creative Writing, must be completed at Macalester before undertaking intermediate, advanced or independent work in creative writing.

Credits for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams are determined as follows:

  • Students who score a 4 or 5 on the English Language/Composition test will be awarded a grade of “S” for English 101, College Writing.
  • Students who score a 4 or 5 on the English Literature/Composition test will be awarded a grade of “S” for English 125, Studies in Literature.
  • Students who score 5 or higher on the higher level International Baccalaureate English exam receive credit for English 125, Studies in Literature, with a grade of “S.”

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit may not be included in the minimum number of courses for a major or minor in English. The Registrar understands that students given credit for English 125 through AP or IB may also take an actual 125 course at Macalester for credit.

See the College Catalog for descriptions of major and minor plans.

Daylanne English

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Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary department that offers students the opportunity to develop a holistic understanding of environmental issues. The program emphasizes multidisciplinary tools and perspectives from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The program encourages depth of disciplinary knowledge, breadth of cross-disciplinary perspectives, and integration through core courses and a required off-campus internship. Students may major or minor in environmental studies.

Requirements for the major

Three introductory ES courses:

  • ENVI 133 Environmental Science (offered Spring 2016) or ENVI 140 The Earth’s Climate System (offered Fall 2015)
  • ENVI 215 Environmental Politics and Policy (take in the first or second year)
  • ENVI 234 American Environmental History (take in the first or second year)

Other required core courses:

  • ENVI 280 Environmental Classics (most often taken in second year)
  • ENVI 489 Environmental Leadership Practicum and ENVI 490 Environmental Studies Leadership Seminar (take in junior year), and
  • ENVI 488 Senior Seminar

In addition, ES majors are required to take (sometime during their four years) a natural science course, a social science course, and a humanities course with an environmental focus, chosen from an approved list or with prior approval of the department chair.

Finally, to assure depth as well as breadth, ES majors are required to complete a seven-course emphasis in an approved department or interdisciplinary emphasis (one of these courses is a methods course). Pre-approved departments are anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, educational studies, geography, geology, history, mathematics and computer science, philosophy, physics, political science and religious studies. Pre-approved interdisciplinary emphases include climate science and policy, community and global health, environmental economics and policy, environmental justice, environmental science, food systems and international environment and development.

Requirements for the minor

Five courses (20 credits) are required for a minor in environmental studies: two from the introductory sequence (Environmental Studies 133, 215, or 234) and three additional environmental studies courses selected in consultation with a department faculty member and approved by the department chair.

Courses to consider for Fall 2015

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of ES, there are many ways for new students to begin the major. These include one of the introductory ES courses: ENVI 133 Environmental Science, ENVI 140 The Earth’s Climate System, ENVI 234 American Environmental History or ENVI 215 Environmental Policy and Politics. For students with a strong math and science background, ENVI 294 Modeling Earth Systems could be a good choice. The other courses you could choose include ENVI 160 Dynamic Earth/Global Change, a Geology based course and ENVI 285 Ecology, a Biology based course.

AP Credit in Environmental Science

If you took AP Environmental Science and received a 4 or 5 on the exam you are allowed to substitute a more advanced course for ENVI 133 Environmental Science. This could include ENVI 140 The Earth’s Climate System or ENVI 285 Ecology (both offered Fall 2015). You are still required as an ES major to take two environmentally related science courses from the list that can be found on Environmental Studies.

Co-curricular activities

There are a number of environmental groups on campus you may wish to join as you become a part of the Macalester community. 

Dan Hornbach

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The Department of French and Francophone Studies welcomes all students of French and offers them the possibility of studying French at all levels (French 101, 111, 102, 203, 204, 305, or 306) in the fall term. Students may enter the sequence at the appropriate level by demonstrating their proficiency in the language. This proficiency is verified by the score obtained on the French foreign language subject test (SAT II with listening) which may have been taken as part of the SAT in high school, or by the score attained on the Macalester language placement test (refer to second language proficiency section).

As a general rule, one year of high school French is in many cases equivalent to one semester of college French. The following guidelines will help you in your choice of level:

  • French 101 (first semester elementary) assumes that students have had no French in their background.
  • French 111 (accelerated French I-II) is designed for students who have had some French prior to enrolling at Macalester and who want to review basic structures.
  • French 102 (second semester) is designed for students who have had one or two years of French in high school, and have an SAT II score of 410-470 (SAT II with listening).
  • French 203 (third semester or intermediate I) is for students who have had two or three years of high school French and have been introduced to all of the major structures of French. They should score between 480 and 580 on the SAT II test with listening. French 203 reviews all of the major structures.
  • French 204 (Text, Film and Media, fourth semester or intermediate II) builds the skills of speaking, listening comprehension, reading and writing through the use of materials from literature written in French, the French press, videos, films, etc. Students with three or four years of high school French and an SAT II score of 590-610 (SAT II with listening) should enroll in this course.
  • French 305 (Advanced Expression), French 306 (Introduction to Literary Analysis) and French 307 (Culture française contemporaine). Students with four or five years of high school French AND an SAT II score of 620 or above should enroll in these courses. They are of equal difficulty, the difference being that French 305 emphasizes speaking, phonetics and structures important in oral expression, French 306 emphasizes introduction to literature and writing about literature, and French 307 addresses issues in modern and contemporary France. These courses may be taken in any order; they are the first courses that count toward a French major or minor. French 306 is required for a French major, and is a prerequisite for some of the 400 level courses in the department.

See the College Catalog for full description of the courses listed above.


ADVANCED PLACEMENT – A score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Language Test gives credit for French 204.

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE – Students should consult with the department chair about credit. Credits are only awarded for the higher level exams.

The French and Francophone Studies department welcomes students who are native or near native speakers of French to enroll in our advanced classes and to apply to work in the French department if they have financial aid.


To fulfill the language requirement in French a student must attain proficiency at the level reached at the completion of French 204. Students who choose to fulfill their language requirement in French may do so:

  • by achieving a score of 620 on the SAT II test with listening, or a score of 700 on the SAT II test without listening;
  • by taking French courses through French 204; or
  • with an appropriate score on the advanced placement or higher level International Baccalaureate exam in French.

Policy on French Language Grades

All language courses, beginning with Elementary French, include an additional weekly session in which a small group of students works intensively with a graduate assistant from France. In order to be accepted into the next higher French language course in the sequence, a student must have received a grade of C- or higher in the previous course. 


  1. 306 and either 305 or 307 or the equivalent
  2. seven advanced courses (300 and 400 level courses) beyond 306 and 305 or 307 or the equivalent, including:
    at least one 412, 413, 414 or 415 course in a period preceding the 20th-century
    at least one 407 course on any francophone region
    at least one culture course beyond 307 (408, 409, 410, 411 or 416)
  3. a Senior capstone project or an Honors Project
  4. an appropriate study abroad program as approved by the department


A minor concentration in French consists of five courses beyond French 204, to include at least two courses at the 300 level and three additional French courses at the 300–400 levels.

Juliette Rogers (May 18 to June 25, 2015) 

Andrew Billing (June 27 to July 14, 2015)

Joëlle Vitiello (July 15 to July 31, 2015)

Juliette Rogers (August 1 to August 31, 2015)

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Macalester's nationally and internationally recognized Geography Department is unusually broad in scope for an undergraduate liberal arts college. The department leads students through an exploration of urban and regional planning, environmental geography, cartography, geographic information science and socioeconomic development in various regions of the world. Students may major or minor in geography.

Human Geography of Global Issues (Geography 111) is a gateway course, which introduces students to issues of human settlements, land use and political order. Courses at the 200 level without prerequisites are open to incoming students, such as Urban Geography (Geography 241), Geography of Asia (Geography 294), Geography of World Urbanization (Geography 261), Geography of Development and Underdevelopment (Geography 263) or Science, Nature, and Society (Geography 294). Upper division courses may be appropriate for students with the necessary background. Contact the department chair with specific questions.

Holly Barcus

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Introductory courses in geology are designed to serve students interested in the geosciences and environmental sciences, as well as students looking to fulfill a general distribution requirement. They provide an appreciation of the scientific principles and techniques used to investigate the earth, and serve to inform students about the composition, materials, major processes, and history of our planet. All GEOL courses count toward the geology major and minor, and fulfill general distribution requirements in the Science/Math category. Most of our courses also satisfy part of the quantitative thinking requirement at Macalester. All of our courses include at least one field trip during the semester. In Fall 2015, Dynamic Earth and Global Change (GEOL/ENVI160) will be offered as a 100-level Geology course in which any student is welcome to enroll. This would be an excellent way of exploring the department and the field!

Kelly MacGregor

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  • Because Germany is the political and economic motor of the European Union.
  • Because really reading Nitezsche, Marx, Freud, or Kafka means reading them in German.
  • Because Germany's social welfare and green energy are way ahead of the U.S., and yet they live better than we do.
  • Because Germany and Austria pour tons of money into fellowships and internships.
  • Because of our terrific 6-month Study Away program in Berlin and Vienna.
  • Because God made Berlin and Fritz Lang made "M".

The Department of German Studies covers all levels of German language; German literary, intellectual, and cultural history; and literary and critical theory in conjunction with the Critical Theory Program. Interdisciplinary in outlook, the German Studies program assumes that the study of language is the study of culture, and vice versa. Elementary and mid-level courses give students proficiency in the language and introduce them to German culture past and present; upper-level courses conducted in German explore topics in literature, history, cinema, music, philosophy, or politics; critical theory courses are conducted in English. All courses, whether taught in German or in English, are open to qualified majors and non-majors.

Students taking German may apply for residency in the German House after their first year; attend cultural events such as Kaffeestunde, film screenings, or our Deutsches Filmfest competition. They may also participate in Macalester’s Study Abroad Program in Berlin and Vienna, for many students the high point of their study at Macalester. Participation in this half-year program brings students within easy reach of a German Studies major, but majoring is not required. The program includes direct-enroll courses through the University of Vienna in many academic disciplines that, beyond the German major, may count toward fulfillment of another major at Macalester.

Placement: Students with no background in German should register for German Studies 101; students who have studied another foreign language may alternatively register for German Studies 110: Accelerated Elementary German. Students with any prior training in German or any extended exposure to the language must take the placement test. Advanced students (scoring above 550 on the placement test or above 620 on the SAT II) should consult with Prof. Rachael Huener about which course is best for them. Some possibilities are German Studies 305: German Through the Media; German Studies 308: German Cultural History I; and German Studies 309: German Cultural History II.

Linda Schulte-Sasse

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The Department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies welcomes students into dynamic language courses in elementary and intermediate Spanish and Portuguese, as well as advanced courses in literature, culture and linguistics, all taught in Spanish. All of our courses emphasize active language acquisition and application within meaningful, contemporary contexts. We believe that language is the pathway to true understanding of culture.

Macalester students take language courses for many practical reasons: as requirements for their major or minor area of study, as linguistic preparation for study abroad, to achieve a deep knowledge of the cultural, intellectual and artistic traditions of the countries they study, and to enhance career opportunities.

Students with no background or limited background in the Spanish language should register for Hispanic Studies 101 (Elementary Spanish I). Students who already have studied Spanish should register following the SAT II Spanish foreign language subject test guidelines (see below) or take Macalester’s on-line placement test (see section on second language proficiency) for help in choosing the appropriate course. Students who have not taken the SAT II or Macalester’s on-line placement test should place themselves according to the number of years of study: one year of high school Spanish is equivalent to one semester college level. The first weeks of the semester allow for some flexibility. Students who find themselves misplaced should find their appropriate level in consultation with a department faculty member. Students who have taken the SAT II should use the following guidelines for placement:

  • 620 and above Hispanic Studies 305
  • 575-619 Hispanic Studies 204
  • 475-574 Hispanic Studies 203
  • 400-474 Hispanic Studies 102
  • 400 and below Hispanic Studies 101

Students who score at the level of Hispanic Studies 101 or 102 and who have the motivation to work at an accelerated pace might consider the course numbered 110.

Students can also take Portuguese in the department. Those who wish to take Accelerated Beginning Portuguese (111) usually have prior background in Spanish or another Romance language, such as French or Italian. Students taking the intermediate-level Portuguese course (331) in the spring will usually have completed Accelerated Beginning Portuguese, although exceptions are made for students with adequate Portuguese language skills, usually those who have lived in or studied in a Portuguese-speaking country. If in doubt about Portuguese placement, please contact Professor Ernesto Ortiz-Díaz:


To fulfill the language requirement in Spanish, students must attain proficiency at the level reached at the completion of Hispanic Studies 204. Achieving proficiency requires making a personal commitment to acquiring and enhancing Spanish language skills both in class and outside of class. Students who choose to fulfill their language requirement in Spanish may do so by:

  • achieving a score of 620 or higher on the SAT II test with listening, or a score of 700 or higher on the SAT II test without listening;
  • achieving a score of 4-5 on the Advanced Placement exam; or
  • successfully completing Macalester’s Hispanic Studies 204 or the equivalent.

Students who opt for #3 must follow the internal policies of the department regarding conditions for advancing from level to level. The department requires that students must attain the minimum grade of C- to advance in the series of required courses (for example, from Spanish 101 to Spanish 102, from Spanish 102 to Spanish 203 and from Spanish 203 to Spanish 204, or a grade of C to advance from 110). If the student’s language proficiency proves to be inadequate, s/he may be required to repeat the level. Students earn credit for 101 and 102 by scoring 5-7 on the International Baccalaureate exam, but these students still need to fulfill the above guidelines to meet the second language proficiency requirement.

One can also choose to meet the Macalester College foreign language requirement in Portuguese by completing the intermediate Portuguese language sequence, which includes Accelerated Portuguese (111), and Intermediate Portuguese and Lusophone Culture (Portuguese 331).

Hispanic Studies Major
The Hispanic Studies major requires 10 courses beginning with 305, Introduction to Hispanic Studies, and includes 307; either 308 or 309; one 400-level course from each of the four areas of the curriculum; one Portuguese language course; and the senior seminar. Up to two courses (or 8 credit hours) from study away may be counted toward the major with prior approval from the Chair. Find out more about the Department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies at our website:

Majors in Hispanic Studies go on to work in such important roles as teachers, community organizers, public health professionals, medical and legal translators, advocates, historians, lawyers, writers, travel guides and as specialists in linguistics, literature or culture.

Hispanic Studies Minor
The Hispanic Studies minor requires 5 courses beginning with 305, Introduction to Hispanic Studies, and includes either 307 or 308 or 309, and 3 courses at the 400-level.

Up to two courses (or 8 credit hours) from study away may be counted toward the minor with prior approval from the Chair.

A student may choose to pursue a Hispanic Studies minor with an emphasis on Portuguese by taking 305, Introduction to Hispanic Studies, Portuguese courses 111 and 331, and two advanced courses taken abroad in a Portuguese-speaking country with prior approval from the Chair.

Molly Olsen

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The discipline of history investigates events and cultures of the past by focusing on specific historical eras, particular geographic areas, and/or compelling thematic issues. It uses a wide range of written, visual, oral, and material evidence as the basis for constructing contemporary accounts about the past. Historical accounts suggest not only how the past has shaped the present but also how any contemporary arrangement represents only one possible result of previous struggles and contingencies. In this sense, history highlights discontinuity as well as pattern, difference as well as similarity, conflict as well as consensus, trauma as well as triumph.

History courses numbered 100-199 are designed for beginning history students. These courses survey the general history of a region or introduce important thematic or theoretical approaches to historical analysis. In any of these courses, students have the opportunity to develop skills essential for the successful study of the past, including engagement with primary sources and exposure to multiple schools of historical study, such as social history, cultural history, the history of gender and so forth. They thus serve as a methodological introduction to any mid-level history course, even one dealing with a different world region or thematic emphasis. Those with prior college level experience in History are welcome to take courses numbered 200-299; they do not presuppose extended knowledge of the subject, but do tend to be more specialized thematically, temporally, or geographically than survey courses.  Courses numbered 300 or above require advanced research skills. 

Ernie Capello

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This concentration provides students an opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of human rights and humanitarianism. The objectives of the concentration are to cultivate in students:

  1. a familiarity with major developments in the history of human rights and humanitarianism;
  2. an understanding of the institutional frameworks governing human rights and humanitarianism, including international law, international organizations, civil society movements, etc.; 
  3. an understanding of the theoretical and philosophical debates about the meanings of human rights and humanitarianism;
  4. a capacity to understand and evaluate practical debates over the methods, motivations, and consequences of human rights and humanitarian action, including but not limited to questions of policy-making, fieldwork, and media and artistic representation;
  5. a familiarity with a range of current and past global (including local, national, and international) human rights problems.

Given that students and faculty approach the study of human rights and humanitarianism from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, the program permits students to complete this concentration in conjunction with a wide array of majors. 

A concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarianism consists of five courses selected from two lists of courses: Framework Courses and Specialized Courses. Of these five courses, at least two (2) courses must come from the list of Framework Courses and one (1) from Specialized Courses.

Students are encouraged to pursue internships and take study away courses in the areas of human rights and humanitarianism. These may be counted toward the completion of the concentration with the approval of the program coordinator.

Wendy Weber

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The International Development concentration examines long-run transitions in social, economic, political, and cultural institutions that have accompanied industrialization in modern states, particularly focusing on states in the Global South. The field seeks to understand how these historical and contemporary shifts affect people’s welfare and opportunities and how change has affected patterns of wealth and resource distribution within and between countries. 

A concentration in International Development requires six courses. These six courses must come from at least three different departments and no more than three courses may come from any single department and no more than two courses coming from a department in which a student is majoring.

In addition, a student completing a concentration, minor, or major in an area studies department or program may include no more than two courses from that area studies plan on an International Development concentration plan.

Amy Damon

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International Studies is one of Macalester’s flagship majors, and is configurable – often in conjunction with other majors, minors, and concentrations – for a vast range of purposes and interests. It focuses on the interdisciplinary confrontation with globalization, across all regions and in many domains. We offer introductory courses (any of INTL 110-114) that explore key questions in today’s international life and introduce students to our department. Each version has its own focus, and students may choose any of them. There are no prerequisites: thus anyone interested in internationalism at Macalester is warmly welcomed to enroll. Our 200-level courses (especially those on human rights and public health) are suitable for new students with some prior familiarity with, and/or very keen interest in, their specific subject matters.

Nadya Nedelsky

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New students with an interest in Latin American Studies (LAS) should do the following:

  1. Send a brief email to LAS Director Ernesto Capello at, communicating your interest in Latin American Studies. This will allow you to be informed about opportunities to meet Latin American Studies students and attend LAS events.
  2. Register for a 100- or 200-level Latin American Studies course.
  3. Register for an appropriate Spanish course, such as HISP 101, 102, 110 (accelerated), 203, 204, 220 (accelerated) or 305. If already proficient at the 305 level, consider HISP/LATI 307 (required for a Latin American Studies major) or consider enrolling in Portuguese or French.
  4. Visit Latin American Studies Program to learn more.

Ernesto Capello

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The legal studies concentration is available to students in any major. The curriculum brings together perspectives from the humanities and social sciences, including American studies, philosophy, sociology, political science, and history, among others. Rather than studying law as doctrine (a set of rules to learn and use), the curriculum examines law as a phenomenon in a variety of contexts. It is designed to give students a broad, yet structured, academic grounding in interdisciplinary approaches, within the liberal arts, to the study of law.

Incoming students interested in the Legal Studies concentration may register for Phil 121: Ethics, Poli 206: U.S. Constitutional Law and Thought, or Soci 220: Affirmative Action Policy.

Erik Larson 

Patrick Schmidt

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If you are interested in languages – whether as productions of the human mind, or as vehicles for culture – you might consider majoring in linguistics. Linguistics 100 (Introduction to Linguistics), Linguistics 206 (Endangered and Minority Languages) and Linguistics 104 (Sounds of Language) are accessible to students with no formal background in the field.

Christina Esposito

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There are several starting points in our department. Most students start in calculus, statistics, discrete math, linear algebra, or introductory computer science. In deciding where to start, it is helpful to think about how you want to use your mathematical, statistical, or computer science skills.

► Disciplines that use Mathematics: These include economics, biology and the health sciences, chemistry, physics, geology, environmental studies, computer science, and others. You should check the individual department requirements for those majors. All of these majors require or recommend calculus and/or statistics. We strongly encourage taking these courses early in your college career. Your math preparation from high school will still be fresh, and you will be able to use these skills in later courses.

► Theoretical Mathematics: Students interested in the mathematics major are encouraged to start in a calculus course (see the placement below information below) or in Math 136, Discrete Mathematics. Discrete Math gives a good overview of many of the non-calculus ideas and skills needed for mathematics and computer science, and it is a great starting point for students seeking to do something different from calculus. Students who have completed the calculus sequence in high school sometimes consider starting in Math 236 Linear Algebra.

► Computer Science: Computer science students are recommended to start in Comp 123, Core Concepts in Computer Science, or Math 136, Discrete Mathematics.

► Applied Math and Statistics: If you are interested in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, it is best to start by completing the calculus sequence and/or taking Math 155 or Comp 123. Note that while Math 136 counts toward the majors in Mathematics and Computer Science, it does not count for Applied Mathematics and Statistics.

► Not Sure? Many students come to Macalester unsure of their future area of study but wanting (wisely!) to take courses in our department. Most of these students start either in Calculus (Math 135, 137, or 237), Statistics (Math 155), Computer Science (Comp 123), or Discrete Math (Math 136). Math & Society (Math 116) is another course to consider. Math 116 is a course designed for non-majors, focusing on a central theme. Topics change, and offerings may include Math of Elections and Voting, Climate Modeling, Game Theory, and Sports Statistics. Full descriptions are available in advance of registration in the semesters when this course is offered.

► AP or IB Placement: If you have taken either AP or IB courses, see for credit and placement.


At Macalester, calculus is required for all mathematics majors and for several other majors (economics, biology, physics, and chemistry, for example). Macalester has introduced an innovative sequence of courses in calculus that gives students an early exposure to mathematical modeling and functions of multiple variables, which are useful in applications throughout science. Our sequence consists of three courses: Applied Multivariable Calculus I, II, and III. Depending on your calculus preparation, you may be ready to enter in any of these three.

Where should I start in the calculus sequence?

Math 135, Applied Multivariable Calculus I: This course is appropriate for students with no calculus background; however, it is different from a traditional calculus 1 and may be an appropriate course for students with a calculus background who are interested in developing mathematical modeling skills. This course focuses on calculus useful for applied work in the natural and social sciences. There is a strong emphasis on developing scientific computing and mathematical modeling skills. The topics include functions as models of data, differential calculus of functions of one and several variables, integration, differential equations, and estimation techniques. Case studies are drawn from varied areas, including biology, chemistry, economics, and physics.

Math 137, Applied Multivariable Calculus II: This course is recommend for students who have had a successful year of high school calculus (as merely one example, AB calculus with a score of 4 or better on the AP exam). This course focuses on calculus useful for both theoretical and applied work in the mathematical, natural, and social sciences. Topics include: partial derivatives, gradients, contour plots, constrained and unconstrained optimization, Taylor polynomials, and differential equations, interpretations of integrals via finite sums, the fundamental theorem of calculus, double integrals over a rectangle. Attention is given to both symbolic and numerical computing.

Math 237, Applied Multivariable Calculus III: Students who enter Macalester having taken BC Calculus with a score of 4 or higher on the AP exam are encouraged to start here. This course focuses on calculus useful for the mathematical and physical sciences. Topics include: scalar and vector-valued functions and derivatives; parameterization and integration over regions, curves, and surfaces; the divergence theorem; and Taylor series. Attention is given to both symbolic and numerical computing. Applications drawn from the natural sciences, probability, and other areas of mathematics.

How far do I need to go in the calculus sequence?

Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry majors need to complete the calculus sequence through Math 237. Economics and most Biology students need to complete any one of Math 135, Math 137, or Math 237. Biology majors with a Biochemistry emphasis need to compete Math 137. We encourage you to see the departmental web pages (Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Physics and Astronomy) for these other majors and speak with a member of the department to verify their mathematics requirements.


Math 155: Introduction to Statistical Modeling is our introductory statistics course. It is required for the Math major, the Applied Math and Statistics major, the Statistics minor, and other majors on campus (including Biology and Economics). Math 155 is a course unique to Macalester, with an emphasis on multivariate modeling, and it cannot be replaced by AP Statistics credits.

Math 136: Discrete Mathematics is a good starting point for students who are interested in mathematics and want to try out areas of mathematics that are different than calculus. This course is required for the mathematics major and the computer science major but not the applied mathematics and statistics major.

Math 236: Linear Algebra is a good starting point for students who have already completed calculus at the level of Math 137. This course is required for the mathematics major and the applied mathematics and statistics major.

Comp 123: Core Concepts in Computer Science is also a good starting place for students in mathematics and applied mathematics and statistics. Comp 123 is the most common introductory course in computer science. It is suitable for students with little or no background in computing, programming, or computer science. This course serves both as a first course in the major and minor as well as an introduction to computer science for those not planning to take further coursework. This course is offered every semester.

Tom Halverson



The introductory computer science courses are designed both for students planning to major or minor in Computer Science or Mathematics as well as for non-majors who have little or no background in computer science but want to learn some computing. The primary starting point in computer science is Comp 123.

Comp 123: Core Concepts in Computer Science is the most common introductory course in computer science. It is suitable for students with little or no background in computing, programming, or computer science. This course serves both as a first course in the major and minor as well as an introduction to computer science for those not planning to take further coursework. It investigates key ideas that underlie computer science, in the context of a range of applications including turtle graphics and fractals, text analysis, and image processing. Central concepts include creativity and the design of program, algorithmic problem-solving, and the representation of data within a computer. This course is offered every semester.

Comp 124: Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures. Students who have taken the Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam and received a score of 3 or above, or who have had other significant prior programming experience, can request permission to start their computer science studies at Macalester in this course. The course introduces students to object-oriented design, software development concepts, and common structures for representations of data.

Susan Fox

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Media and Cultural Studies

Thinking of majoring in Media and Cultural Studies?

The Media and Cultural Studies major analyzes the poetics, politics, and production of media texts, in alignment with the College’s commitment to internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement, using theories and methods drawn from the humanities.  The department offers an innovative ten-course major that includes opportunities for students to combine analysis, history, criticism, and production.

The major provides students with a working knowledge of historians and critics of new media, film, newspapers, radio, and television; helps students develop an ability to explicate a specific body of culture or type of media in depth; and provides students with opportunities to appreciate different kinds of media and to produce original work.

Students take at least ten courses toward the major. Four courses are required:

  • The introductory course, Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies (MCST 110), which covers the history of cultural analysis, broadly defined, from traditional to contemporary approaches, providing students with a foundation in major writings and acquainting students with issues of continuing debate in media studies. Completion of or enrollment in 110 is required for admission into the major program.
  • MCST 128, Film Analysis and Visual Culture.
  • MCST 126, Local News Media Institutions, or INTL/MCST 202, Global Media Industries.
  • MCST 488, capstone Advanced Topic Seminar, in which students work on an independent project in line with the theme of the seminar and share their scholarship with a scholarly community, integrating what they have learned in the major. The capstone experience involves close analysis of cultural artifacts that examine at a higher level issues first raised in the introductory course. In exceptional cases, students with sufficient preparation may take the seminar prior to their senior year. Students may complete their honors projects in the capstone seminar.

The major also requires one advanced course in media/cultural theory, two courses on race or gender/sexuality and the media, one course in analyzing or making media, and two approved electives in media studies. Additional professional courses are available at the University of St. Thomas and other ACTC schools.

Thinking of minoring in Media Studies?

The media studies minor is for students interested in journalism or media studies or a combination. It requires five courses, including MCST 126, Media Institutions, or INTL/MCST 202, Global Media Industries. The minor concentrates on media studies and offers opportunities for critical research as well as for pre-professional experience in media production.

Students in the department have found opportunities for internships with arts and other nonprofit organizations and with media companies. Graduates have found employment in the media, in government, and in social and cultural institutions as well as opportunities for further study in doctoral programs and professional schools.

Students who enroll as majors or minors are invited to department events and notified of internships, conferences, and other off-campus opportunities. While enrolling as a major or minor requires a tentative course selection, students may change their selections before their last semester, provided they remain within major or minor requirements. More information is available at: Media and Cultural Studies.

Leola Johnson

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The broad goal of this concentration is to provide students with an opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. Somewhat more specifically, the objectives of the concentration are to cultivate in students (a) a basic familiarity with culture, politics, religion, philosophy, literature, economy, and geography of both the Middle East and the wider Islamic world; (b) an understanding of some of the major theoretical and/or methodological approaches to the study of both the Middle East and the Islamic world; (c) an appreciation of the social, political, and cultural diversity/complexity of the Middle East and Islamic World; (d) a sympathetic understanding of a relevant worldwide or cultural perspective different from his/her own; (e) a capacity to engage thoughtfully and constructively in potentially difficult dialogues regarding some of the more contentious issues affecting the region/civilization (e.g. US intervention in Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict); and (f) if possible, facilitate knowledge of a language that is spoken natively by people of the Middle East or Islamic world.

Given that students and faculty approach the study of Middle East and Islamic civilization from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, the program permits students to complete this concentration in conjunction with a wide array of majors. The program promotes breadth by requiring that students complete courses (in several departments) dealing with both the Middle East and the wider Islamic world; it promotes depth by requiring a capstone project focused on a relevant topic.

Andy Overman

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All student musicians are welcome in the Music Department, which offers courses, ensembles, and lessons in a variety of musical traditions, including Western art music, jazz, African Music, Chinese music, Scottish piping, and many others. General students should consider enrolling in Music Appreciation, Theory I, or African Music. Students should feel free to ask the faculty about the musical background required for other courses in the music department.

Students considering the major or minor programs should 1) register for Theory I (Theory I is a prerequisite for most other music major and minor courses), 2) consult the Catalog regarding departmental prerequisites, and 3) arrange an appointment with one of the full-time music faculty for advising. Note: We offer Theory I only in the fall semester, and it serves as an ideal introduction to both the music major and minor, and to the College. If you already have a strong theory and ear-training background you may be able to consider beginning the theory sequence at an advanced level (after consultation with a theory faculty member).

All ensembles and private music lessons (for an extra fee) are available to all students at the college. Ensembles audition at the beginning of each semester. Registration for ensembles and for private lessons are made at the beginning of the semester.

Ensembles – Credit will be applied after the completion of two consecutive semesters of the same studio instruction and/or ensemble participation. Please refer to the college catalog for more detailed information on lessons and ensembles, and the award of credit for participation in:

  • African Music Ensemble
  • Macalester Concert Choir
  • Macalester Chorale
  • Mac Jazz Band
  • Jazz and Popular Music Combos
  • Pipe Band
  • Orchestra
  • Early Music Ensemble
  • Chamber Music Ensemble
  • Wind Ensemble

Victoria Malawey

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Students interested in majoring in Neuroscience Studies should complete a number of introductory level courses in biology, chemistry and psychology before taking courses specifically related to neuroscience beyond the introductory course, Neuroscience Studies 180: Brain, Mind and Behavior. If you are interested in this major, in addition to the Brain, Mind and Behavior course, you should consider taking several of the following courses during your first year: Biology 260 (Cell Biology) and Biology 265 (Genetics), Chemistry 111 (General Chemistry I), Chemistry 112 (General Chemistry II) Math 155 (Introduction to Statistical Modeling) and Computer Science 123 (Core Concepts in Computer Science)

Eric Wiertelak

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Introduction to Philosophy (Phil 100) and Ethics (PHIL 121) provide excellent introductions to the field of philosophy. Introduction to Philosophy addresses a wide range of philosophical topics and enables students to gain an understanding of philosophy in general. Ethics provides a more focused introduction to the field of moral philosophy and is required for a major in philosophy. Introduction to Philosophy and Ethics sometimes have a special focus even though they cover a range of topics.

Introduction to Symbolic Logic (PHIL 111) and Critical Thinking (PHIL 110) are also introductory level courses that are suitable for new students. They focus on formal and informal reasoning (respectively), rather than traditional philosophical issues such as right and wrong, truth, or reality. They provide students with important tools of criticism and analysis that are useful in all coursework and beyond college. 

At the 200-level there are several courses that are somewhat more specialized, but that do not have pre-requisites. New students are welcome to take, for example, Ancient and Medieval Philosophies, Environmental Ethics, Bio-Medical Ethics and Indian Philosophies when these courses are offered. Ancient and Medieval Philosophies is required for a major in philosophy, but all of these courses count towards the major (in the form of electives when not required).

Geoffrey Gorham

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The department of physical education provides students the opportunity to develop or improve skills in activity classes and/or compete in a wide range of recreational, intramural, club and intercollegiate sports. 


A variety of activity classes are offered through the department of physical education. Students may earn a maximum of four credits toward graduation for participating in four different physical education activity classes. Each class is one credit and all activity classes are graded S/NC. 

Water Activities:

  • 001 Swimming I 031 Scuba Diving
  • 011 Swimming II 041 Lifeguard Training
  • 021 Swim for Fitness 051 Aqua Aerobics

Lifetime Activities:

  • 002 Tennis I 015 Fencing II
  • 003 Beginning Social Dance 016 Yoga II
  • 004 Karate I 017 Running
  • 005 Fencing I 018 Pilates
  • 006 Yoga I 020 Weight Training
  • 007 Personal Health and Wellness 023 Competitive Sport Dance
  • 008 Step Aerobics 026 Tai Chi
  • 009 Conditioning 028 Pilates II
  • 010 Racquetball I 030 Golf
  • 012 Tennis II 033 Salsa Dance I
  • 013 Intermediate Social Dance 040 Self Defense
  • 014 Karate II 043 Salsa Dance II
  • 050 Tai Kwon do

Vanessa Seljeskog

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Principles of Physics I (PHYS 226) and II (PHYS 227) and Modern Physics (PHYS 331) provide a solid foundation for careers in all science fields and are prerequisites for most advanced physics courses. Students who are contemplating a science-related career should build a strong foundation by taking mathematics early in their college years. Note that concurrent registration in Applied Calculus I (Math 135) is the minimum math background for Principles of Physics I, concurrent registration in Applied Calculus II (Math 137) is the minimum math background for Principles of Physics II, and prior completion of Applied Calculus II is the minimum prerequisite for Modern Physics. All three semesters of the calculus-based introductory physics sequence, Principles of Physics I, Principles of Physics II, and Modern Physics, are offered in the fall semester, so that incoming students with any level of preparation can start physics at the appropriate level during their first semester at Macalester. Please note that of the three introductory physics courses only Principles of Physics II is also offered in the spring semester. Students should plan accordingly.

Prospective physics majors should consult the department website, which presents a typical schedule for the first two years of study under the subheading majors and minors. Students with an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 on the Physics C Mechanics exam are encouraged to start their college physics with Principles of Physics II, while students with an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 on the Physics C Electricity and Magnetism exam may want to start with Modern Physics. Students considering advanced placement should consult with a department faculty member to discuss their special circumstances. Incoming international students also are encouraged to discuss their high school physics preparation to ensure placement at the appropriate level. Students contemplating a physics major are advised to start their college mathematics at the highest level of Applied Calculus that is commensurate with their high school preparation.

Contemporary Concepts in Physics (PHYS 111), Modern Astronomy (PHYS 113), and Astronomical Techniques (PHYS 120) are offered for the general student audience and have no prerequisites. These courses are open to incoming students, but they may be elected at any point in a student’s Macalester career.


John Cannon

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While students often begin their study of politics with a Foundations course – POLI 100 (US Politics), POLI 120 (International Politics), POLI 140 (Comparative Politics), and POLI 160 (Political Theory) – they can also enter the major by taking a 200-level course that does not have a prerequisite. Incoming students entering with advanced placement credits or college-level transfer courses in Political Science may need to consult the department chair regarding which Foundations courses would be appropriate.

Patrick Schmidt

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For those of you interested in medical school or veterinary school or dentistry, you should seriously consider enrolling in General Chemistry 111 or 115 during your first semester (see the Chemistry section for details). All medical schools require the equivalent of one year (2 semesters) of general chemistry and an additional two to three semesters of advanced chemistry. 

In addition, all medical schools require two – five semesters of biology with lab and two semesters of physics with lab. For biology courses, we recommend taking at least Genetics (BIOL 260) and Cell Biology (BIOL 265).  Cell Biology has a pre-requisite of Chemistry 112 or 115. In addition to these courses, medical schools are also increasingly requiring a course in the behavioral sciences, which can be satisfied by taking either PSYC 100 or SOCI 110. Statistics and courses that demonstrated writing proficiency are also common requirements for medical school.

If you are interested in any premedical area (medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, etc.) you should consult one of the health professions advisors (Professor Lin Aanonsen, Director of the Health Professions Advising Committee/Biology, Professor Devavani Chatterjea/Biology, or Professor Mary Montgomery/Biology, very early in your first year for academic advice. You should also contact Patty Byrne Pfalz (HPAC Administrative Assistant) in the biology department to be included on the Health Professions mailing list ( Visit Health professions advising.

Lin Aanonsen, Director of the Health Professions Advising Committee/Biology

Devavani Chatterjea, Biology

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We offer two ways for you to start your studies in Psychology. If you have a general interest in the field or are contemplating an academic concentration in the discipline, we recommend Psychology 100, Introduction to Psychology. It provides a broad survey of the field and is appropriate for anyone who’d like to know more about psychology. It is also a prerequisite for more advanced courses in the department and is required for the major.

If you received a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology exam or a 5 or above on the IB Higher Level exam, you can place out of Psychology 100 and can proceed to one of the department’s intermediate classes that will be offered this fall: PSYC 180 (Brain, Mind and Behavior), 220 (Educational Psychology), PSYC 244 (Cognitive Neuroscience) PSYC 246 (Exploring Sensation and Perception), PSYC 250 (Developmental Psychology), PSYC264 (Psychology of Gender) and PSYC 270 (Psychology of Sustainable Behavior).

Joan Ostrove

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Religious Studies is a broadly interdisciplinary investigation that takes its place among the humanities and social sciences. Majors in religious studies enter a wide range of vocations; only some are conventionally related to ‘Religious Studies,’ including but not limited to the pursuit of graduate work in the study of religion or professional life in the parish ministry/rabbinate. The department works with students who wish to focus on the academic study of religion, as well as those who seek courses in religion to help them frame and interrogate issues provoked in other academic areas. As a key part of human culture and history, Religious Studies encourages critical thinking about cultural, moral, and ethical processes unfolding in the world; majors bring this perspective with them when they enter fields as diverse as journalism, law, medicine, and community activism.

Introductory courses are broad in scope, even as they seek to be selective enough to allow an in-depth encounter with source documents situated within their historical, literary, and social contexts. Seminars may take up an issue or theme and allow for a concentrated reading and pursuit of focused critical questions and issues. Methods of instruction include not only lectures and small group discussion, but also opportunities for independent study and research, one-on-one engagement with faculty, and site-specific projects in the Twin Cities and beyond. Courses are offered in specific traditions (e.g. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam) as well as geographic areas (e.g. Religions of India) and in comparative and theoretical areas of analysis.

Major Concentration
The major concentration in Religious Studies consists of eight courses in religion, and two supplementary courses, approved by the advisor, in a field that provides sustainable skills or theoretical tools for the study of religion. For example, for students with a primary interest in Biblical studies, a reading course in Hebrew or Greek would count toward the major. Courses in philosophy, anthropology, sociology, women's, gender and sexuality studies might strengthen a student's grasp of theoretical issues in the study of religion. Courses in history and literature may also provide valuable substantive knowledge that complements the student's work in Religious Studies. In order to encourage breadth of understanding, students majoring in Religious Studies file major plans, approved by advisors and the chair, which demonstrate diversity in subject matter (traditions) and approach (method). Reading proficiency in at least one foreign language is advised for students contemplating graduate study in religion. Majors are required to take the disciplinary seminar Theory and Method in the Study of Religion and, preferably in their senior year, Approaches to the Study of Religion, which is offered annually. A “senior dialogue” with the members of the department is also required for all majors.

Minor Concentration
The minor in religious studies consists of a minimum of five courses in religious studies taken in consultation with the department. To assure diversity, students minoring in religious studies are required to take a course in at least two religious traditions.

Jim Laine

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Russia and the other members of the former Soviet Union are dynamic and complex nations with rapidly growing economies. Because of their vast natural resources, technological expertise, and proud heritage, their influence is felt across the globe. At the same time, the region has produced some of the most enduring and beautiful works of literature, art, and music. At Macalester, we provide many pathways into discovering this region, its people, and its contributions to world culture.

The Russian Studies program offers students an opportunity to access and understand Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia through coursework in language, literature, culture, history, political science, international studies, economics, critical theory, and translation. Our culture courses explore Russia’s folklore, mass culture, visual arts, theater, music, and cinema. All of our courses on literature and culture are taught in English, and students at various levels of preparation are welcome.

Russian Literature and Culture Courses

In the Fall of 2015, new students may take RUSS 251: Superfluous Men and Necessary Women: Russian Literary Classics in Translation (cross-listed with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies); and RUSS 294: Terrorism and Art: The Spectacle of Destruction (cross-listed with International Studies).

In the Spring of 2016, new students may enroll in RUSS 151: Things Don't Like Me and RUSS 256: The Soviet Mass Culture State..

Russian Language Courses

Russian language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. Students with no background in Russian should register for RUSS 101: Elementary Russian I. We encourage students with prior background in the study of Russian to meet with one of the Russian faculty members, who will help them to select the language course that best suits their needs. As a general guideline, one year of high-school Russian is roughly equivalent to a college semester. The fourth-year course (RUSS 488) is taught by different faculty with topics that vary from year to year; thus, students may take the course several times in order to improve their command of Russian. Students taking Russian may apply to live in the Russian House starting in their sophomore year.

To fulfill the language requirement in Russian, a student must attain proficiency at the level reached at the completion of Intermediate Russian II (RUSS 204). Students who choose to fulfill their language requirement in Russian may do so by taking Russian language courses through Russian 204.

Russian Beyond the Classroom

Macalester students majoring in Russian Studies, as well as those in other majors (in recent years these have included Art History, Anthropology, and Theater and Dance), go on study abroad programs in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities. These programs cater to students at various levels of linguistic preparation, including absolute beginners (in which case students receive language training on-site). Closer to home, our students also have many opportunities to engage with the local Russian-speaking community.

Studying Russian will give you a command of a language widely spoken around the world as well as develop your understanding of other cultures and your skills in interpreting varied cultural texts. Students typically major in Russian in preparation for a wide range of careers, including international relations, law, journalism, business, public health, ecology, translation, teaching, and graduate work in the humanities or social sciences.

For detailed information about the Russian Studies faculty, course offerings, the structure of the major and minor, study abroad, and opportunities to get involved with the Russian-speaking community in the Twin Cities, visit Russian Studies.

Jim von Geldern

Julia Chadaga

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The Sociology department offers courses that serve students with diverse interests and that help students build a variety of skills useful for their time at Macalester and future careers. By examining how power, culture, and institutions influence the lives of people and activities of organizations, sociology provides a valuable perspective that helps people offer creative, distinctive insights.

For Fall 2015, new students may be interested in:

  • Sociology 110: Introduction to Sociology (which introduces students to concepts and perspectives to understand social inequalities),
  • Sociology 180: Sociology of Culture—The Fine Arts (which examines how art functions in relation to social conflict and social groups and how the organization of social life influences art),
  • Sociology 220: Sociology of Sexuality (which examines how the sexual expression, attitudes, behavior, and identity vary across the life course and history and current hot topics in sexuality), and
  • Sociology 230: Affirmative Action Policies (which examines policies that seek to promote school integration and access to higher education and to address racial and gender discrimination in employment).

Any of these offerings provide an excellent introduction to the department and the way it approaches social issues.

Erik Larson

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Welcome to Macalester and the Theatre and Dance Department. We are a committed team of teachers, artists, technicians and – especially – students like you.

We work and play together in classrooms, rehearsal studios and onstage/backstage to make Macalester’s theatre and dance programs one of the BEST liberal arts performance programs in the nation. We are HAPPY to have you join us.

Let us take this opportunity to tell you about some of the Theatre and Dance courses open to you and our upcoming season.

Fall courses OPEN to New Students:

  • Cultures of Dance – fulfills Internationalism requirement
  • Crafting the Tangible: Technologies of Performance (Formerly Technical Theatre)
  • Voice and Speech
  • Fundamentals of Scene Design
  • Seminar in Performance Theory and Practice

DREAMING THE WORLD FORWARD, Theme for 2015- 2016 Season
An exciting season planned for 2015- 2016. Four theatre and two dance concerts.

Dreams—from sleeping visions, phantasms, to future reveries— have the power to fire up the human spirit and draw us forward into the new. Dreams respond to lived circumstances: they track the world as it once was, the material world we live in now, and the world that might be. There is a rich global history of movers and shakers— scientists, politicians, activists, scholars, artists—who dared to dream ways of living that reinvented the known. "Possibilitarians," they dreamed new worlds forward.

Please come to an information session about the department on Friday afternoon of the first week of school, at 4:30 PM in the theater. And check out Theatre and Dance.

Harry Waters Jr.

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The urban studies concentration is directed towards students who are interested in urbanization and interdisciplinary perspectives on city life. The 8-course concentration combines a sound theoretical and experiential base and is divided into two parts: a curricular portion that provides students with a theoretical base, and an applied portion that gives students first-hand experience conducting research on specific aspects of city life. Geography 241 or any of the intro-level electives provide an appropriate introduction to the urban studies program.

Laura Smith

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Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) as an academic program grows out of a history of struggles by women and other minorities for social and political justice. The classes are based in that historical understanding of ourselves as people who enjoy the privileges and bear the responsibilities of those efforts. The program at Macalester offers a wide variety of courses - from histories of national and international feminism to theories of gender and sexuality to the link between theory and practice. WGSS intersects with numerous academic disciplines and is represented through cross-listed courses in many departments at Macalester College including American Studies, Anthropology, Art & Art History, Asian Languages & Culture, Biology, Classics, History, Economics, Latin American Studies, Music, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Russian Studies, Sociology, and Theater & Dance.

If you are interested in WGSS, there are a number of courses that you could take in your first semester. WGSS 100, “Introduction to WGSS: Sex, Gender and Social Worlds”, is a wonderful introduction to the area and is also a required course for the WGSS major and minor. Other courses available to take in your first semester include “Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome”. These courses will provide a strong foundation on feminisms and gender in the matrix of race, class, and sexuality. They will also prepare you for more advanced courses in the WGSS curriculum.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Lin Aanonsen

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