Department and Program Recommendations for First-Year Students
The information contained in this section is written specifically to address common concerns and interests of first-year 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 and Advising Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com or visit the Registrar’s webpage.
Macalester’s African Studies program gathers faculty from multiple departments (Anthropology, French, Geography, Geology, International Studies, Music, Political Science, Sociology, and more) to offer a range of courses and an interdisciplinary concentration focused on the diverse histories, cultures, and societies across the African continent and diaspora. Beyond this, the great majority of our concentrators study abroad in a program on the continent for a semester in their junior year.
Fall 2021 courses related to the concentration can be found on its website. First-years should look to take courses at the 100 or 200 level. You may also direct questions to the 2021-2022 African Studies program director Jessica Pearson.
Our website is http://www.macalester.edu/academics/africanstudies/
What is American Studies? At Macalester College, the American Studies program is so much more than a continuation of a high-school curriculum on U.S. civics, history, or literature. Our program first emerged out of student-organized demands for Ethnic Studies. Today, our courses focus on recognizing and analyzing systems of inequality and power, engaged learning, and public scholarship. We encourage a critical eye; we study problems from a variety of perspectives; and we work together to pose questions that connect back to communities and the people who comprise them. What explains racial differences and categories? How have borders been defined? What does it mean to be a good citizen? Who benefits from ideas of nation and empire? What makes crime a racialized topic?
At the start of the 21st century, the President of the American Studies Association, Michael Frisch, underscored the many forces that shape our interdisciplinary field. “…[M]ulticulturalism, ethnicity, race, class, and gender …[have] 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. . .”
In other words, contemporary American Studies pushes far beyond a traditional acceptance of U.S. exceptionalism and the American Dream. Moving freely across conventional texts, film and video, popular culture, theater, art, memes, and place, we seek to ground ourselves in the concerns of our day. Our research tools and methods are broad and varied, giving credence and value to the experience and knowledge of marginalized groups. Whether in the classroom, at internship sites across the Twin Cities, within clubs and organizations on campus, students who major or minor in American Studies develop the tools they need to debate and dialogue intelligently with others.
Department website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/americanstudies/
Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Chair
The Anthropology Department emphasizes the holistic study of the human condition. Our interests range from world cultures and global challenges, to human rights and human origins.
In the Fall of 2021 we will be offering one First Year Course.
Prof. Scott Legge – ANTH 194: Evolution, Bigfoot, and Anthropology in the United States
It is interesting that the term “Evolution” can be more contentious in the United States than the concept of a hairy upright walking humanlike ape populating the remote forests of North America or even the snowy slopes of the Tibetan Plateau. Nothing grabs international media headlines like a Bigfoot sighting. This course will examine some of the most heated debates of evolutionary anthropology in the U.S. We will trace the histories of these debates back to the early European Naturalists who posited some of the first theories of organic change and look at the ways in which many of those theories have been re-shaped into the pseudo-scientific “evolutionary alternatives” that are posited today. Throughout the course we will read a wide variety of texts, including both fiction and non-fiction, and discuss how these writings have shaped the public understanding of evolutionary theory.
For further information, see the department website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/anthropology/
Scott Legge, Chair
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 emphasis in art history and studio art. Art and Art History will offer two interdisciplinary First Year Courses for 2021-22:
- Social Design: History, Theory, and Praxis
- Nature and Power
New students are welcome to take courses in any medium or area of art history at the entry level. First-year students and non-majors are welcome.
Contact individual faculty to inquire about upper level courses with pre-requisites. Additional information can be found on the department website, http://www.macalester.edu/art/.
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Chair
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 offers an Asian Studies Major and Minor, a Chinese Language and Culture Major and Minor, and a Japanese Language and Culture Major and Minor. See the department website at http://www.macalester.edu/academics/asian/majorsminors/ for more information on the structure of each major and about the faculty and fields of study involved.
Students who have studied Chinese in the past are strongly encouraged to take the placement exam. The Chinese placement exam will be offered twice: July 16 or August 12. Please follow this link for information about the test and to sign up. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KiwdWPyRicPIQe4bwtzeI7xdi4eaevEjeeVNHUyOziE/edit
The Japanese placement exam will take place over Zoom on Monday, August 9th from 10AM to 12PM US Central Time. Please sign up for the exam by filling out this Google Form by 1:00PM on Friday, August 6th. Please refer to this document for more information on the placement exam. Japanese Placement Exam
Rivi Handler-Spitz, Chinese
Satoko Suzuki, Japanese
Asia has always been at the crossroads of humanity: the heart of a global system of commerce that tied the Old World together, and which brought Arabs, Europeans, Africans, and Chinese to the ports of the Indian Ocean to trade. Asia gave the world everything from yoga to gunpowder, from cinnamon to the printing press, from the idea of diplomatic immunity to the practice of religious tolerance.
Home to more than half of the global population, Asia in the twenty-first century is reclaiming the place it held in world affairs before the rise of Europe in the eighteenth. The Asian continent contains some of the world’s largest economies as well as its largest cities, and Asia’s industrial production leads the world. Its societies are a wellspring of creative energy—the world’s largest film industry, for instance, is in India, and Japanese manga has had an enormous influence on global pop culture. In everything from the global economy to climate change, Asia’s sheer size makes it a force to reckon with in the dynamics that will shape our common future. A background in Asian Studies is essential to navigating the global spaces of the 21st century.
The Asian Studies major at Macalester is an inter-disciplinary program that weaves together the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts to introduce you to this dynamic region of the world. It brings multiple perspectives to bear on the challenges of understanding this vast continent and the cultural, political, economic and historical forces that have shaped it. It is an ideal major for students planning a career in Asia in any field but is also highly recommended for students seeking a handle on the region that is among the most significant for our common future.
Our website is https://www.macalester.edu/asianstudies/about/
If you are considering majoring in Biology, the most important thing for you to do in the fall is to get started with chemistry. Most students interested in majoring in Biology should register for General Chemistry I (CHEM 111), which is only offered during the fall semester.
If you have a strong high school chemistry background, you may consider two other possibilities:
1) you might instead enroll in CHEM 115, Accelerated General Chemistry, which compresses the usual two-semester introductory chemistry sequence into one semester. In Fall 2021, this course is only being offered as a FYC; or
2) you could skip General Chemistry I (CHEM 111) and instead wait until the spring semester to enroll in General Chemistry II (CHEM 112), which is only offered during the spring semester.
If you are interested in either of these options, you should take the online chemistry placement exam over the summer or when you arrive on campus. Please contact Dr. Marc Rodwogin (firstname.lastname@example.org) for access to the placement test.
There are four “core” introductory courses required for the biology major: Ecology & the Environment (BIOL 170), Biodiversity & Evolution (BIOL 180), Genetics (BIOL 190), and Cell Biology (BIOL 200). BIOL 170, 180, and 190 have no prerequisites, may be taken in any order, have connected laboratory sections, and have seats that have been saved for incoming first year students. Any one of these courses would be a perfect place to begin your Biology journey. The fourth “core” biology course, Cell Biology (BIOL 200) has prerequisites of Genetics (BIOL 190) and CHEM 112. This course is really considered an intermediate course, and should be taken only after the other core courses, usually during the sophomore or junior year.
If you decide not to register for a biology core course during your first semester, you should be sure to register for one during your second semester.
For further information, see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/biology
Kristi Curry Rogers, Chair
CHEM 111 (General Chemistry I) and CHEM 112 (General Chemistry II) together provide an in-depth introduction to modern chemical ideas. CHEM 115 (Accelerated General Chemistry) is a more advanced introductory course which covers key topics from both 111 and 112 in a single semester. CHEM 111 and 115 are offered only in the fall and CHEM 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 either 111 or 115 in their first semester. One can place into 115 with a score of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement test, a score of 5 or higher on either the higher or standard level Chemistry International Baccalaureate exam, or with a strong performance on the online chemistry placement test. Please contact Dr. Marc Rodwogin (email@example.com) for access to the placement test. Please see the Chemistry Department web site (http://www.macalester.edu/academics/chemistry/) for more information.
We explore the languages, literatures, cultures, and archaeological remains of this region in the distant past, from Rome to Greece, Egypt, Israel and beyond. Here students learn Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, or Latin (all of which fulfill the Second Language Requirement), and together with faculty analyze and interpret ancient texts, societies, and material culture, as well as explore art and archaeology, myth, history, and the religions, political structures and ideas that arise from this part of the ancient world.
Professor Brian Lush will be teaching an FYC in the fall on Greece and Rome in the movies entitled Classics in Film. This course will explore direct and thematic intersections between Greco-Roman literature and cinema from all over the world.
Other good approaches for students interested in the field would be to begin a classical language (Latin, Arabic and Hebrew begin this fall). For further information on majors and minors, study abroad programs, and what faculty and students are up to in the Classical Mediterranean and Middle East, please see our website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/classics/. Specific questions can be addressed to department chair Brian Lush at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you around the third floor of Old Main!
If you have studied Latin previously, please consult the department website for how to place yourself into the right Latin course: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/classics/majorsminors/wheretostart/.
Cognitive science is the study of how knowledge is acquired, stored, represented, and used by intelligent systems, both natural and artificial. The Cognitive Science concentration at Macalester exposes students to scientific studies of (the) mind and other intelligent systems from a variety of academic disciplines. The core of the concentration consists of rigorous coursework on the nature of such systems from the perspective of Philosophy, Psychology, Computer Science, Linguistics and Economics.
See https://www.macalester.edu/cognitivescience/ for more information.
The Community and Global Health concentration brings together a variety of disciplines and perspectives to important issues in population health and applies these approaches to civic engagement projects, independent research, as well as in classroom settings. 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 health, illness, and healing in local and international communities.
For additional information, please consult our main website (www.macalester.edu/cgh), the senior projects page (https://sites.google.com/macalester.edu/cgh-senior-seminar-2020/home) or the program’s director, Eric Carter (email@example.com).
Unless otherwise indicated, most of the critical theory courses offered in the fall semester are appropriate for first-year students, particularly the “core” courses. This is certainly true of courses numbered on the 1xx- and 2xx-levels, but sometimes also of 3xx-level courses (just ask the instructor of the course you are interested in).
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 20-page research paper (this can also be combined with an appropriate major capstone or honors thesis).
For more information and specific courses offered, please see the Critical Theory website: Critical Theory.
For questions regarding the CT Concentration, please contact the director of the Program, Professor Kiarina Kordela.
Economics is the study of how people make decisions and how these decisions apply to real-world problems. Economics can help us understand income inequality within and across countries, the quality of the environment, unemployment, poverty, crime, health care, financial crises, technological change, inflation and many more issues. Our Principles of Economics course introduces the basic tools that economists use to explore these topics and will cover fundamental economic concepts like scarcity, supply and demand, costs and benefits, trade-offs, and incentives.
The course is split into three parts. In the first, students are introduced to the methodology of economics — that is, how to “think like an economist” — and begin to learn about markets. We investigate cases where markets work well to allocate goods and services and cases where “market failures,” such as the presence of externalities (e.g. the positive spillovers from education) or public goods (e.g. a stable global climate) necessitate government intervention.
The second part of the course investigates how consumers and firms make decisions, the effects of market structure (i.e., competitive markets versus monopoly) on market outcomes and well-being, and the markets for factors of production (labor, natural resources, capital, etc.) which help us understand the causes of income and wealth inequality.
The final part focuses on the financial system and macroeconomics—the study of economy-wide “aggregates” such as Gross Domestic Product, the Consumer Price Index and the unemployment rate. One important goal here is to examine why there are disparities in material living standards across nations. Another is to learn about the causes and effects of economic recessions and the role that fiscal and monetary policy play to mitigate them.
For more information about the Economics Department, please see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/economics
Sarah West, Chair
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. The Education & Society emphasis provides opportunities for interdisciplinary exploration of pressing social and educational issues on local, national, and international levels.
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.
See the department website for more information www.macalester.edu/academics/education.
The English department is offering two great First Year Courses in Fall 2021. One is ENGL 150-05, Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by Professor Peter Bognanni, who explains,
In this course we will dive right into the study of creative writing by reading and writing poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and personal essays. We will study how published authors craft their pieces, how they convey sensation and emotion, and how they artfully tell a story. Along the way, you’ll try your hand at each literary form we study. This is the basic template you can expect on a day-to-day basis. But, beyond this relatively simple pattern, what I hope will happen this term is that you’ll lose yourself to the daring act of creating literature. I hope you’ll disappear into what John Gardener calls the “vivid and continuous dream.” I hope you’ll use your growing knowledge of writing technique and literary history to say something fearless and artful about the world around you. And I hope you will see that what you write matters. Great creative writing aspires to more than just a pleasant diversion from life. At its best, it directly engages with life and even tries to change it. We look to stories, poems, and essays to give us an experience in language that we’ve never had before, to deepen our knowledge of the world, and to allow us into the hearts and minds of others. I hope this semester will be a window into that experience for you.
Please note that if you are interested in taking creative writing courses at Mac, ENGL 150 is the prerequisite to all the other courses. And because we know that first-year students are often eager to get involved in creative writing, even if their majors (or FYCs) will be in other departments, we have reserved a few spots for first-years in five other sections of ENGL 150 as well, so it should be easy to find a section that fits into your schedule.
The other first-year course is ENGL 137-01, Novel, taught by Professor James Dawes, an exciting course that this fall will focus on science fiction. The course description:
In the past fifty years, science fiction has emerged as the primary cultural form for thinking about human extinction: climate catastrophe and natural disasters, plagues that empty continents, and species suicide through war. But science fiction has also emerged as the primary cultural form for imagining a near boundless future through technological progress: artificial superintelligence, cybernetic enhancement of the human, and the possibility of utopian political order. Facing such disorienting and unfathomable changes, science fiction seeks to understand what it means to be a human and to live a meaningful life. Why are we here? What are we to become? How will the promises of technology, or the lethal threats of scarcity, change what it means to be a thinking, feeling human? In this course we will examine works of science fiction as complex aesthetic achievements, as philosophical inquiries into the nature of being and time, and as theoretical examinations of the nature of human cognition. We will engage in intensive readings of contemporary texts, including works by Ted Chiang, Philip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others. Counts toward the Cognitive Science Concentration
Other English courses appropriate for first-year students include any in the 100-level sequence; these courses have no prerequisites. 200-level English courses also have no prerequisites, although first-year students are advised to wait until the spring semester to register for them. All 100-level courses will provide an introduction to college-level study of literature or creative writing, with a heavy emphasis on the development of writing, critical thinking, and close reading skills, as well as deep reading in fascinating subject matter. We would particularly point out ENGL 140-01, Once Upon a Crime. This course serves as an introduction to law and literature. How does literature shape law and vice versa? How does literature help us to better understand the consequences of revenge, the elusiveness of confession and testimony, and the classic conflict between justice and law? Readings will come from a variety of literary traditions and periods: fairy tales, early modern drama, contemporary film, and literary and legal theory. We have also recently added a section of ENGL 112, Introduction to African American Literature, which currently has lots of space available in it.
For more information about the English Department, see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/english
Andrea Kaston Tange, Current Chair
Peter Bognanni, Chair beginning June 1
Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary department that offers students the opportunity to develop a holistic understanding of environmental problems and solutions. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary 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. For more information see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/environmentalstudies.
The first year course offered by the ES department this year is “Introduction to Sustainability” (ENVI 194).
Other appropriate introductory courses for those interested in environmental studies include: Soil: Science and Sustainability (ENVI 104), Dynamic Earth/Global Change (ENVI 160), (ENVI 294) Environmental Sociology, and Ecology and the Environment (ENVI 285) among others.
Roopali Phadke, Chair
The interdepartmental program in Food, Agriculture and Society offers a six-course, interdisciplinary concentration involving core and supporting courses as well as an internship. The program exposes students to the social and biophysical aspects of complex food and agricultural questions. It aims to produce graduates who: 1) understand the fundamentals of food and agricultural systems; 2) have broad interdisciplinary training on the theme; and 3) are able to connect their interdisciplinary training on food, agriculture and society to real word experiences and application.
Recommended courses offered in the fall that would be appropriate for incoming first year students include: GEOG 232 People, Agriculture and the Environment; GEOL 104 Soil Science and Sustainability; and Chem 194-01: Food Chemistry. There is also a food related first year seminar: FREN 194-01: Food in French and Francophone Cultures: The Local and the Global. Contact the Program Director with specific questions.
Bill Moseley, Program Director
The Department of French and Francophone Studies welcomes all students of French and offers the possibility of studying French at all levels in Fall 2021 (French 101, 102, 111, 203, 204, 305, or 306 and advanced courses). Students may enter the sequence at the appropriate level by demonstrating their proficiency in the language. If you have taken French in high school or elsewhere, your proficiency level is verified by the score attained on the Macalester language placement test. For advanced students, your level is verified by the score obtained on the French AP exam. If you are in an IB program, please consult the department chair or one of the professors listed below in Summer Contacts. For more specific placement information, including test scores, please refer to the guidelines on our website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/french/languageplacement/
In Fall 2021, the department is offering two First-Year Courses in English:
Professor Joelle Vitiello will teach “Food in French and Francophone Cultures: The Local and the Global”
France is famous for its food and cuisine. What makes it unique? How does French food translate French culture? What changes occurred throughout history? From medieval recipes to the first pub-lic restaurants, from the introduction of the first tomato dish to the new trends in branding water, chocolate, tea, vanilla or coffee, we will explore different topics related to food in France and the Francophone world, such as the impact of travel and colonial development on French food and on food in French colonies or the significance of rituals and traditions associated with food, among others. These questions will be addressed through a variety of films, media and texts. The course will provide a frame to engage creatively with issues of sustainability in Western and non-Western francophone cultures and communities through the study of representations, production, circulation and consumption of food. From cheese stories to existentialist cafés in Paris, from Haitian sugar to North African couscous and Bourbon Island vanilla, the course will explore our connection to food, locally and globally. The course has a double objective: to familiarize students with French and Francophone cultures and to introduce students to different and innovative ways of considering sustainability issues from different cultural perspectives. The format of the course is a seminar, based on student discussions, research, and presentations. It satisfies the WA (Writing Argumentative) and Internationalism requirements. It counts toward the African Studies and the Food Studies Concentrations.
Professor Julie Rogers will teach “Performing Exile: Immigration and Adaptation in Francophone Theater”
Playwrights of the past fifty years have sought to bring topics of contemporary concern to the stage and screen, including the three main topics that we will explore together in this course: the act of writing and performing while living in exile, the idea of the Other on the stage, and the development of colonial and post-colonial subjects in French drama. During the course, we will expand our understanding of human rights and humanitarianism as it relates to immigration, adaptation, and exile. We will also examine Boal’s notion that we are all actors, directors, costumers and spectators of our lives.
The course will be a mix of seminar discussion, scene readings, and student presentations. In addition to literary and cultural analyses of the plays, we will also learn blocking and staging techniques as well as performance theory. The course will conclude with a creative writing project. Authors and filmmakers studied will include Aimé Césaire, Abla Farhoud, Wajdi Mouawad, and Denis Villeneuve, among others.
Note: this course will be taught entirely in English. All texts are available in English translation, and all class discussions and writing assignments will be in English. Therefore, no previous background in French is required. If you do have an advanced level of French, there is the possibility of doing the readings and assignments in French, for credit toward the French major or minor.
The FRENCH MAJOR is nine courses:
1) 306 and another 300-level bridge course equivalent 300-level course (305, 308, 309, 310 or 311)
2) six advanced courses (300 and 400 level courses) beyond 306, including a) one upper-level course on a period preceding the 20th century, b) at one course on a Francophone region, c) one French or Francophone culture course .
3) the Senior independent study (which includes a capstone project or an Honors Project)
4) an appropriate study away experience as approved by the department or the equivalent immersive experience
The FRENCH MINOR is five courses:
Two courses beyond 204 at the 300-level and three additional French courses at the 300 or 400 levels. The department also strongly recommends that minors take 306, as it is required for all 400-level topics courses.
For more information on the French academic program, French House, study abroad, and other student opportunities, please visit our website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/french/
Joëlle Vitiello May 18-June 10
Claude Cassagne June 11-July 4
Juliette Rogers July 5-24
Andrew Billing July 25 – August 14
Moustapha El Hadji Diop August 15-31
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 human-environment interactions, urban geography and planning, health geography, cartography, geographic information science and remote sensing, and socio-economic development in various regions of the world. Students may major or minor in geography, or minor in Geography with an emphasis in GIS/Cartography.
Human Geography of Global Issues (GEOG 111) and World Regional Geography: People, Places, and Globalization (Geography 113) are gateway courses, each of which introduces students to issues of human settlements, land use, and political order. Regional Geography of the U.S. and Canada (GEOG 242) and Geography of Environmental Hazards (GEOG 258) are being offered as First Year Courses in the fall and would likewise be excellent introductions to the department. Additionally, courses at the 200-level without prerequisites are open to incoming students, such as Introduction to Urban Ecology (GEOG 203), Urban Geography (GEOG 241), Geography of Africa: Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context (GEOG 243), Metro Analysis (GEOG 262), Neotropical Landscapes (GEOG 294-01), and Daily Life and Geography of the Arab World (GEOG 294-04). Other upper division courses may be appropriate for students with the necessary background (such as AP Human Geography). Contact the department chair with specific questions or see the department website at www.macalester.edu/academics/geography.
Laura Smith, Chair
The introductory courses in geology are designed to accommodate students interested in learning more about the geosciences and environmental sciences. They provide an appreciation of the scientific principles and techniques used to investigate the Earth, and inform students about the composition, materials, major processes, and history of our planet. Our introductory courses count toward the major and minor, and fulfill general education requirements in the Science/Math category. Many of our intro courses satisfy part of the quantitative thinking requirement at Macalester, and some also satisfy writing requirements. We are offering two introductory courses in Fall 2021 – Dynamic Earth and Global Change (GEOL160), and Dinosaurs (GEOL 101). Any of our intro courses would be an excellent way of exploring the department and the field!
See the department website for more information www.macalester.edu/academics/geology
Ray Rogers, Chair
Three of the distinguishing characteristics of the Department of German Studies at Macalester are:
(a) that students can select their own interdisciplinary track combining German with a focus on “Language & Culture,” or “Art History” or “Critical Theory,” or “History,” or “Literature,” or “Media, Film, and Theater” or an individually designed focus;
(b) that our department offers a unique six-month immersion program in Berlin and Vienna, through which German majors achieve high-level proficiency in the language. To learn more, please visit our website.
(c) that German majors and minors can live in the German House practicing further their language proficiency in everyday situations, participating in communal meals and activities, as well as departmental events.
The Department of German Studies offers all levels of German language, as well as high-level courses in German literature, culture, and intellectual history, taught in German. We also offer interdisciplinary courses in English in topics that range from critical theory and philosophy to cinema and the media. Although new courses are often introduced, recurrent titles include “Dead White Men”—a course reading major philosophers since the 16th century and critical theory—“Spinoza’s Eco-Society,” “Metaphysics in Secular Thought”—with partial focus on political theory— and “Value”—with partial focus on aesthetic theory—and various courses on Marx, such as “Reading Marx” and “Marx and Art.”
Our Fall 2021 first-year course is “Our Cyborgs, Ourselves,” which examines the representation, in literature and other media, of the boundaries (or absence of boundaries) between humans and non-humans such as puppets, robots, cyborgs, and the posthuman.
Language Placement: Students with no background in German should register for German Studies 101; students who have had minimal German in high school or 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) should consult with Prof. Rachael Huener about which course is best for them. Some possibilities are German Studies 308: German Cultural History I; and German Studies 309: German Cultural History II.
For more information, see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/german
Kiarina Kordela, Chair
How does the past continue to influence the present? How can we distinguish between what really happened versus what is invented? To answer these questions, historians practice what we study: We re-construct and re-present events and cultures of the past using a broad range of written, visual, oral and material evidence. This increases our understanding of how, and why, humans constantly reshape narratives about people and events while at the same time trying to preserve their original essence. In this spirit of rooted reinvention so characteristic of the discipline, the Macalester College History Department has recently refashioned itself around a new current in the profession: global history. Global history emphasizes zones of interaction rather than individual areas or discrete time periods; it highlights trans-regional and chronology-busting phenomena such as migration, conquest and trade. Students and professors of history at Macalester therefore have the shared opportunity to study multiple times, places and sources in addition to choosing one or two avenues of specialty to pursue in depth. This wider-ranging comparative approach allows us to address the contradictory and often clashing presence in the human record of conflict as well as consensus, trauma as well as triumph, difference as well as similarity, fact as well as fiction, and discontinuity as well as pattern.
For further information on the department and course offerings, please consult the department website at http://www.macalester.edu/academics/history/about/
Incoming students are welcome to enroll in 100- and 200-level classes. Examples of Fall 2021 courses that First-Year Students might find interesting include:
HIST 114-01 History of Africa to 1800
HIST 122-02 The Roman World
HIST 154-01 African Life Histories
HIST 194-01 Nature and Power **First-Year Course only**
HIST 194-02 First Encounters
HIST 194-03 Making Modern Europe
HIST 209-01 Civil Rights in the United States
HIST 219-01 In Motion: African Americans in the United States
HIST 225-01 Native History to 1871
HIST 234-01 U.S. Environmental History
HIST 260-01 Rise/Fall of Tsarist Russia
HIST 271-01 Uses and Abuses: Drugs, Addiction and Recovery
HIST 274-01 The Great Tradition in China before 1840
HIST 276-01 The Great Tradition in Japan before 1853
HIST 282-01 Latin America: Art and Nation
HIST 294-01 Native Americans in Popular Culture
HIST 294-02 Listen Closely: Oral History
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:
- a familiarity with major developments in the history of human rights and humanitarianism;
- an understanding of the institutional frameworks governing human rights and humanitarianism, including international law, international organizations, and civil society movements;
- an understanding of the theoretical and philosophical debates about the meanings of human rights and humanitarianism;
- 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;
- 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: Framework Courses and Specialized Courses. Of these five courses, at least two courses must come from the list of Framework Courses and one from the list of Specialized Courses. The HRH concentration also includes an optional 2-credit Senior Colloquium.
Students in the HRH program 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.
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 with 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.
For more information see www.macalester.edu/academics/internationaldevelopment
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 first-years with some prior familiarity with, and/or very keen interest in, their specific subject matters.
For more information about the International Studies Department see: https://www.macalester.edu/internationalstudies/
Students with an interest in Latin American Studies (LAS) should follow these steps:
- Send a brief email to LAS Director Ernesto Ortiz-Díaz (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
- Register for a 100- or 200-level Latin American Studies course.
- Register for an appropriate Spanish or Portuguese course.
- Visit Latin American Studies Program to learn more.
The Legal Studies Program offers students a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students who have interests in law—whether as a career or an intellectual pursuit. In the curriculum, the Legal Studies concentration provides students a course of study that places law within the tradition of the liberal arts, encouraging students to develop a deeper, lasting engagement with Macalester’s mission and their future work. As an interdisciplinary concentration, students find sustained engagement of law-related issues from a variety of perspectives intellectually stimulating and rewarding. As a six-course concentration, it is not essential for students to begin a legal studies concentration during the first year; however, we often find that first year students really enjoy our courses and that they build on these course experiences throughout their time at Macalester.
Among our course offerings in Fall 2021 are two first-year courses:
PSYC 194-01 Psychology of Right and Wrong
SOCI 190-01 Criminal Behavior/Social Control
Some of the other courses that contribute to the concentration offered in Fall 2021 are:
ENGL 140-01 Once Upon a Crime
PHIL 121-01 Ethics
POLI 206-01 US Constitutional Law and Thought
For additional information about courses that are part of the Legal Studies concentration, please consult www.macalester.edu/academics/legalstudies .
If you have questions about any of the courses offered for Fall 2021 or the concentration, please contact one of the Co-Directors of Legal Studies.
Patrick Schmidt, Professor of Political Science
Erik Larson, Professor of Sociology
Linguistics is the scientific study of language, the medium in which we do almost everything.
Here are a few introductory courses suitable for first year students. These courses have no prerequisites.
Ling 100: An Introduction to Linguistics
Language is a uniquely human skill; no other animal possesses anything like it. This course will make you aware of the complex organization and systematic nature of human language. In a sense, you will be studying yourself, since you are a prime example of a language user (for example, how do you pronounce pecan? Do you call carbonated beverages soda, pop, soda-pop, or Coke? How is plural expressed in your language? ) Most of your knowledge of language, however, is unconscious, and the part of language that you can describe is largely the result of your earlier education, which may have given you confused, confusing, or misleading notions about language. This course is intended to clarify your ideas about language and bring you to a better understanding of its nature. By the end of the course you should be familiar with some of the terminology and techniques of linguistic analysis and be able to apply this knowledge to the description of different languages.
Ling 104 Sounds of World’s Languages
Nearly all natural languages are spoken. Biological properties of the human ear, pharynx, larynx, tongue, and lung impose limits on the sounds of human languages, which can be studied from both a biological and an acoustic point of view. In this course you will be trained to produce and recognize (almost) all the sounds which human languages make use of, and to develop a systematic way of analyzing and recording them. Since sounds are perceived as well as produced, you will also be introduced to the acoustic analysis of speech, learning how acoustic signals of frequency, amplitude, and duration are translated into visible, quantifiable images. You will learn the art of decoding these spectrograms into sounds and words and sentences. The linguistics laboratory contains several different programs for practicing and listening to sounds from many of the world’s languages. This course is recommended for students of foreign languages, drama, music and anyone who wants to become more aware of their (and other people’s) pronunciation.
Ling 194: Historical Linguistics
Languages are constantly changing. The English written by Chaucer 600 years ago is now very difficult to understand without annotation, not to mention anything written a few centuries before that. This course investigates the nature of language change, how to determine a language’s history, its relationship to other languages and the search for common ancestors or “proto-languages.” We will discuss changes at various linguistic levels: sound change, lexical change, syntactic change and changes in word meaning over time. Although much of the work done in this field involves Indo-European languages, we will also look at change in many other language families. This is a practical course, most of class time will be spent DOING historical linguistics, rather than talking about it. We will be looking at data sets from many different languages and trying to make sense of them. In the cases where we have examples of many related languages, we will try to reconstruct what the parent language must have looked like.
Ling 206: Endangered and Minority Languages
Language loss is accelerating at alarming rates. In fact, Linguists predict that only five percent of the six thousand languages currently spoken in the world are expected to survive into the 22nd century. In this course, we will examine the historical, political, and socio-economic factors behind the endangerment and/or marginalization of languages in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. We will also concentrate on the globalization of English (and other major languages), which plays a primary role in language endangerment and marginalization. Additional topics include: linguistic diversity, language policy, multilingualism (in both nations and individuals), global language conflict, and language revitalization. Students will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about these issues by interviewing speakers of an endangered and/or minority language.
For more information, check out our webpage: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/linguistics/
Christina Esposito, Chair
Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) has faculty expertise and course offerings in theoretical math, applied math, statistics, data science and computer science. We have chosen to stay together as a single department because we value the many important interconnections between these disciplines. The MSCS Department is changing its major structure as of Fall 2021. It will offer four different majors ー Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, and Computer Science ー and four minors ー Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, and Computer Science. Course descriptions, information about our majors and minors, advice on course selection and placement information can be found on our department website, www.macalester.edu/academics/mscs.
The most common starting place in mathematics is in our calculus sequence: Applied Multivariable Calculus (AMC) I, II, or III (Math 135, 137, and 237). Many majors across campus require at least one calculus course. Incoming students who have taken high school calculus are typically ready to start in AMC II or AMC III. See www.macalester.edu/mscs/wheredoistart/ for placement information. Another popular starting place in the mathematics curriculum is Discrete Mathematics (MATH 279). Send questions about the mathematics curriculum to David Shuman (email@example.com).
The most common starting places in the statistics and data science curriculum are Introduction to Statistical Modeling (STAT 155) and Introduction to Data Science (STAT / COMP 112). STAT 155 is substantially different from AP statistics; thus all incoming students would start here. Direct questions about the statistics curriculum to Victor Addona (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The most common starting place in the computer science curriculum is Core Concepts in Computer Science (COMP 123), though students with prior experience such as high school AP computer science may be able to start in Object-Oriented Programming and Abstraction (COMP 127) or in Data Structures (COMP 128); consult with CS faculty for the best placement. Send questions about the computer science curriculum to Susan Fox (email@example.com).
David Shuman, Math
Susan Fox, Computer Science
The Media and Cultural Studies major analyzes the history, 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.
The media studies minor is for students interested in journalism or media studies or a combination. It requires five courses, including MCST 126, Local 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.
The Twin Cities is a vibrant and creative urban area, and 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.
This concentration provides students with an opportunity to engage in the study of the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. Some of the objectives of the concentration include: A) Developing a basic familiarity with the cultures and religions, politics and history, geography and economy of the Middle East and Islamic world. B). Students will want to obtain some understanding of the major methodological approaches involved in the study of MESIC; MESIC students will gain a deep appreciation of the social, political, and cultural diversity and complexity of the Middle East and broader Islamic World. In this concentration students will find ways to engage in difficult dialogues and tackle some of the major issues of the day and region. Developing the capacity to engage thoughtfully and constructively in some of the more contentious issues affecting the region is a vital feature of MESIC at Macalester. Students are strongly encouraged to learn at least one of the languages spoken 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.
For more information, go to www.macalester.edu/academics/mesic
All students may participate in the Music Department, which offers courses, ensembles, and lessons in a variety of musical traditions. Our first-year course for Fall 2021, “Music, Race, and Ethnicity,” will be appropriate for any student interested in studying music at Macalester. Students considering the major or minor in music will need to take MUSI 113 Musicianship, preferably early on. A range of other courses, together with performance participation, also are required for the major and minor. Courses appropriate for general students include World Music and Introduction to Western Classical Music (neither of these count towards the major or minor). Students are encouraged to audition for any of our ensembles—African Music Ensemble, Asian Music Ensemble, Macalester Concert Choir, Macalester Chorale, Macalester Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Mac Jazz Band, Jazz and Popular Music Combos, Pipe Band, Early Music Ensemble, Chamber Music Ensembles—at the beginning of each semester. Private lessons are available for an extra fee to all Macalester students. Registration for lessons and ensembles takes place during the first week of classes.
See the department website for more information www.macalester.edu/academics/music
Macalester’s Neuroscience Program provides a rigorous introduction to the study of the nervous system that is, like the field itself, rooted in biology and psychology. Students interested in majoring in Neuroscience should plan to complete Chemistry 111 (General Chemistry I), Chemistry 112 (General Chemistry II), Biology 190 (Genetics), and Psychology 100 (Introduction to Psychology) during their first year. The Neuroscience program does not offer a first-year course, and students are encouraged to use their first-year course to explore their non-science interests.
See www.macalester.edu/academics/neuroscience for more information.
This fall the Philosophy Department is pleased to offer two First Year Courses:
Introduction to Philosophy with Film (Prof. Geoffrey Gorham) FYC – Section 1
Introduction to Philosophy with Film (Prof. Geoffrey Gorham) FYC- Section 2
Description: In this class we will explore and discuss what the greatest philosophers have said about the fundamental puzzles of human existence – such as the nature of reality, knowledge, freedom, personal identity, morality and death – tracing paths of intellectual development from the beginnings of philosophy in the ancient world to the ‘postmodern condition’ of contemporary thought. To supplement our study of major philosophical texts of Plato, Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Augustine, Averroes, Descartes, Hume, Kant and so on, we will read philosophical literature and view and discuss a number of films. Philosophical literature has been around as long as philosophy, but film is a recent human invention that seems to provide a very useful medium for philosophy. We will consider how fictions and films illustrate the philosophical problems that we are studying and also examine puzzles about the nature of fiction and film itself: Are there truths and falsehoods about fiction and film? Why do fiction and films engage us? Why do we enjoy sad and terrifying fiction and films? What is the nature of time and space in these media? Can we ‘do’ philosophy with fiction and film? We will also consider philosophical issues related to other ‘moving image’ media such as video games and virtual reality. Assignments will be mostly short papers. Class sessions will be a mixture of lecture, viewings and discussion. No purchased text.
Introduction to Philosophy: Time, Truth and Meaning (Prof. Hannah Kim) – Section 3
Description: In this class, we’ll explore some of the biggest philosophical questions that occupy us. We’ll also acquaint ourselves with an array of figures in western and non-western traditions. Between life and death, there is only one factor that is truly common to all human experience: time. But what is time? St. Augustine famously says that he knows what time is until someone asks him to explain what it is. We’ll start by exploring whether time flows, what sempiternity and eternity are, and what the difference between the past, present, and future might be. Once we get a grip on this time thing that we all occupy, we’ll move on to Truth. What can we hope to know? Do we live in a simulation? Who should we trust, and how do we build a coherent understanding of the world? What is truth, anyway? Lastly, we’ll move on to perhaps the most important: meaning. What is the purpose of life? Does such a question even make sense? Where do my values come from? We’ll explore theism, existentialism, antinatalism and others as views that offer competing answers to these questions.
Introduction to Symbolic Logic (Prof. Janet Folina) – Sections 1 and 2.
Description: An introduction to formal methods for evaluating deductive arguments. Topics include formal fallacies, decision procedures, translation of arguments to argument forms, and natural deduction proofs in propositional and predicate logic.
Ethics (Prof Amy Ihlan) Section 1
Description: This course will introduce you to concepts and issues in moral philosophy, with a focus on ethical judgment and action – what it means to “do the right thing”, be a good person, or live a good life. We will explore ethical theories from western and global traditions and apply them to a range of contemporary moral issues and problems.
Digital Ethics (Prof. Diane Michelfelder) Section 1.
Description: When this course was first developed, the ethical questions it considered largely imagined, as a context, an Internet user sitting at a personal computer. As digital devices and the activities that they afford permeate many aspects of our everyday lives and social institutions, that Internet user is ever increasingly a device-connected data-subject. In this course, we will consider a wide array of ethical issues connected to these devices and the activities and practices in which they are embedded and which they help shape. Up for consideration, reflection, and discussion will be topics such as privacy, dataveillance, algorithmic bias and other ethical issues within AI, and the responsibilities of social media companies with respect to content moderation. The questions we will ask will be both small and big—including ones about the ethical impacts of “digital life” on our relations with others and the quality of our lives. No books will be required for this course: all readings will either be available online or as .pdfs.
Philosophy of Law (Prof. Amy Ihlan) Section 1
Description: This course explores a variety of issues in legal philosophy, including methods of legal reasoning, theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation, the relationship between law and morality, the ethical implications of lawyers’ roles in adversarial legal systems, and topics in feminist and critical legal theory. We will also consider ways legal analysis and arguments influence public policy, political controversies, and approaches to conflict resolution.
More information about these and other philosophy courses can be found at the Registrar’s website or the department website or by contacting the department chair, Prof. Geoffrey Gorham. http://www.macalester.edu/academics/philosophy/
Hope to see you in a philosophy class at Macalester in the fall!
The department of physical education provides students the opportunity to learn about sport and develop or improve skills in a variety of activity classes. 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. Consult the Fall Schedule for current options.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy will offer one first year course (FYC) in 2021.
Prof. Tonnis ter Veldhuis (firstname.lastname@example.org) will teach PHYS194-01, “Rocket Science,” a rocketry-themed, calculus-based introductory physics course for first-year students only. The course covers standard material such as Newton’s laws, conservation of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum, oscillations and orbital dynamics, but with a strong focus on applying these basic physics principles to rocket propulsion and flight. In the process, we will explore the dynamics of past and planned space agency missions designed to investigate asteroids, planets and their moons, and comets. Instead of a conventional lab, the course includes a hands-on, semester-long project where students design, simulate, build, and launch their own high-power rockets. Apart from the rocket building project, evaluation will take the form of regular problem sets, exams, short papers, and a research paper. Some high school physics and calculus are recommended. Rocket Science can be substituted for the course Principles of Physics I towards the physics major and provides a solid foundation for Principles of Physics II.
General Education Requirements (tentative):
Quantitative Thinking Q3
Natural science and mathematics
Details about the physics major and required courses can be found at http://www.macalester.edu/academics/physics/majorsminors/.
Political Science is offering two First Year Courses.
Professor Paul Dosh’s POLI 141: Latin America through Women’s Eyes explores issues such as feminist challenges to military rule in Chile, anti-feminist politics in Nicaragua, the intersection of gender and democratization in Cuba, and women’s organizing and civil war in Colombia. Teaching methods include discussion, debates, simulations, analytic papers, lecture, film, and poetry, allowing us to learn how Latin American women have overcome patriarchy to serve as presidents, mayors, guerilla leaders, union organizers, artists, and human rights activists.
Professor Wendy Weber’s POLI 221: Global Governance engages the central features of contemporary global governance, including the changing status of the state and of international/world organizations and the role of global civil society. How have patterns of global governance changed and what are the implications for democracy and social justice? By addressing such topics as the International Criminal Court and the role of the IMF and the World Bank in economic development, the course highlights the contested nature of global governance.
The department also reserves places for entering students in our introductory courses, including Political Argumentation and Debate, Foundations of U.S. Politics, Foundations of Comparative Politics, Foundations of International Politics, Foundations of Political Theory, and Theories of Rhetoric. New students may also enroll in any of the more focused courses that we offer at the 200-level. For more information, visit: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/politicalscience/ or contact the department chair, Lesley Lavery.
Advisors: Lin Aanonsen (Co-Chair of the Health Professions Advising Committee, Biology), Ron Barrett (Anthropology), Devavani Chatterjea (Biology), Kristi Curry Rogers (Chair, Biology), Elizabeth Jansen (Co-Chair of the Health Professions Advising Committee/Biology), Mary Montgomery (Biology) and Jaine Strauss (Psychology)
Students interested in premedical studies should consult one of the premedical advisors very early in their first year for academic advice and join the Health Professions mailing list, and the student organization, Health Professions Student Coalition.
Premedical students at Macalester may major in any discipline and concurrently complete all premedical requirements. A science major is not a prerequisite for admission to medical school. Most medical schools require the following courses: CHEM 111 – General Chemistry I: Structure and Equilibrium and CHEM 112 – General Chemistry II: Energetics and Reactivity; CHEM 211 – Organic Chemistry I and CHEM 212 – Organic Chemistry II; two to six courses in Biology (we recommend at least BIOL 190 – Genetics, BIOL 200 – Cell Biology, PHYS 226 – Principles of Physics I and PHYS 227 – Principles of Physics II, or possibly, a non-calculus-based physics course at another institution; and two courses in English. At a number of medical schools, the “English” requirement can be satisfied by various writing or literature courses and need not be listed as an English course. BIOL 351 – Biochemistry I is either a required course or is a strongly recommended prerequisite at a growing number of medical schools. Most medical schools also require a course in the behavioral sciences; we recommend either PSYC 100 – Introduction to Psychology or SOCI 110 – Introduction to Sociology. Additional courses in the humanities and mathematics (we highly recommend taking a statistics course) may also be required for admission to some medical schools. These requirements vary so you should consult your premedical advisor before deciding about courses to take that may satisfy the premedical requirements.
Premedical advisors work carefully with students throughout their preparation, both individually and in group sessions, to assist in program planning that will best meet the individual needs of students. Regular forums and seminars are presented on appropriate topics in research, ethics, admission test preparation, application procedures and interview skills. There are a variety of summer opportunities that enable students to conduct research and explore health professions.
Liz Jansen, Co-Chair Health Professions Advising
First year course: The Psychology of Right and Wrong
Associate Professor Steve Guglielmo
Whether reading the news, reflecting on historical events, or enjoying a work of fiction, our daily lives are infused with considerations about moral and immoral behavior. In this course, we’ll explore the psychological processes that underlie our ideas about right and wrong, helping us to understand and improve our own moral decisions. What sort of acts do we see as immoral, and how do we hold people accountable for them? How do we make sense of social inequality, and how do we make up for past moral failings? What role does empathy play in producing more fair and equitable behavior? Through readings and class discussion, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach to examining these questions, considering research from various subfields in psychology, as well as perspectives from philosophy, sociology, and artificial intelligence.
Advanced placement: If you scored a 4 or a 5 on the AP exam in Psychology, received a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB higher level Psychology exam, or submitted qualifying GCE A-level grades, you may get credit for PSYC 100 and are welcome to take any intermediate-level class in the psychology department. If you ultimately decide to major in psychology, you will get placement credit for intro psych but you will still take 11 courses for the major.
For more information, go to www.macalester.edu/academics/psychology
Eric P. Wiertelak
Religious Studies is a broadly interdisciplinary investigation that takes its place among the humanities and social sciences. 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, education, professional life in the parish ministry/rabbinate, and community activism.
First year course for fall: Professor Susanna Drake, RELI 294 “Virginity: From Mary to Millennials.” In this course we will explore diverse Christian understandings of virginity from the first century, C.E. to today. From the veneration of the Virgin Mary in early and medieval Christianity to the more recent celebration of virgins and born-again virgins in U.S. pop culture, many Christians have understood the practice of virginity as a mark of spiritual progress or perfection. Students in this course will examine the rise of Christian sexual renunciation in the first through fourth centuries, C.E., the veneration of virgin saints in the Middle Ages, the shifting attitudes toward virginity in the Reformation era, the recent development of Christian chastity movements in the U.S. (True Love Waits, Silver Ring Thing), and the proliferation of Christian chastity advice literature. In written assignments and class discussions, we will explore how Christian practices of renunciation draw upon and contribute to cultural understandings of gender, sexuality, and the body.
These classes may also be of interest:
RELI 111 Introduction to Buddhism (Erik Davis)
RELI 120 The Jewish Bible (Nick Schaser)
RELI 236 World Religions and World Religions Discourse (Jim Laine)
RELI 294 Gender Relations in Islam (Ahoo Najafian)
RELI 294 James Baldwin and the Black Religious Imagination (Bill Hart)
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. 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.
For more information, go to www.macalester.edu/academics/religiousstudies
William Hart, Chair
Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union comprise the vast geographic space called Eurasia. The former Soviet Union is composed of Russia, the Central Asian republics, the Caucasus nations and Siberia, and the Baltic states. If a student of international affairs were to journey into that space to explore its unknown cultures and geographies, and could do so knowing only one language, that language would be Russian. Current events tell us that becoming familiar with that region is imperative; but in the longer term, its cultural and historical riches alert us to the benefits of exploring the post-Soviet world. Macalester students and faculty have keen interest in regions like East Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe – and countries such as China, North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan. Only the former Soviet Union borders all of those regions and countries, and Russian is spoken throughout that space. Russia itself is both European and Asian, and has more Muslim citizens than Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories combined. The speaker of Russian can travel from St. Petersburg to Beijing, confident that they will be understood.
Russian scholars in literature, history, anthropology, politics, cultural and postcolonial studies are fully engaged in globally important comparative studies of race, ethnicity, class, gender, world culture, and more. Studying Russian is an integral part of Macalester’s internationalism.
Our courses explore Russia’s language, literature, history, visual arts, and film; we offer comparative courses on such topics as revolution and the theory and practice of translation. Most of our courses are taught in English, and students at all levels of preparation are welcome.
In Fall 2021, we will be offering a First Year Course titled “Social Design: History, Theory, and Praxis” co-taught with faculty in Art History and Theater in which students will learn about Russian contributions to the field of design and the connections between visual culture and such topics as gender, race, migration, politics, and activism.
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, see the department website at http://www.macalester.edu/russian
We invite you to visit our webpage: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/sociology/index.html
A piece of advice to first year students: Discover sociology at Macalester early. Many students who take their first course in the department during their junior or senior year regret not having the earlier exposure. Why? Because studying sociology:
- Provides new insights about your life and the world around you;
- Builds a range of tangible skills, related to the variety of evidence we use (from richly detailed accounts based on observing people as they go about their daily lives to analysis that reveals broad patterns that might otherwise remain invisible);
- Fosters creativity by providing a variety of perspectives on the topics that we study; and
- Involves learning about interesting and relevant topics, including how inequalities emerge and affect people’s lives; how practices of social life affect interaction and ideas; how distinct ways of arranging activities matter; and how organizations operate.
The department has reserved seats for incoming students in the following courses, none of which require prior experience, for Fall 2021:
Criminal Behavior/Social Control (First Year Course)
Introduction to Sociology
Children and Childhood in Times of Change and Crisis
Immigrant Voices in Times of Fear
Families and Social Change
Erik Larson, Chair
The Department of Spanish & Portuguese welcomes students into dynamic language courses in elementary and intermediate Spanish and Portuguese, as well as advanced courses in literature, cultural studies and linguistics, all taught in Spanish or Portuguese. 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.
We have two courses in Fall 2021 that may be of special interest to first-year students. Prof. Alicia Muñoz will teach a first-year course (FYC): Spanish for Heritage Speakers: Latin American and Latinx Cultures. Spanish 306 serves as a bridge between the intermediate and advanced courses in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and counts toward the Spanish major and minor. The course is designed for heritage speakers of Spanish: those who grew up speaking Spanish at home, with extended families and in their communities. Leaning on all of their previous experience with the language, the course seeks to enrich and complement the students’ linguistic repertoire by further developing their communicative abilities in Spanish, both verbal and written, especially in an academic context. Class content will focus on Latin America and the U.S. Latinx population. Through discussion and analysis of literary works, films, critical articles, and personal experiences, we will examine constructions of race and ethnicity, the politics of language, human rights violations, immigration, and family and cultural beliefs. The course satisfies the following general education requirements: US Identities and Differences and Argumentative Writing. Upon successful completion of this course, students may enroll in a variety of upper-level courses in Spanish such as “Introduction to U.S. Latinx Studies.”
Prof. Ernesto Ortiz-Díaz will also teach a first-year course (FYC) titled Soultracking Brazil: Shuffling Through the Sounds of a Musical Nation. In this course, students will study how the idea of Brazil as a nation rests upon the ongoing creation of a popular soundtrack that brings the country’s different cultural regions closer through a melody of sounds, rhythms, and musical genres. Every week, the course will shuffle through the national musical archive to look for the soul of Brazil to the beats of samba, bossa nova, modinha, xote, forró, lundu, frevo, carimbó, maxixe, maracatu, among many others. In conjunction with an exploration of the musical richness of Brazil, the course will also reflect on how concepts like gender, identity, race, ethnicity, and class have informed the national music scene. This course will be taught in English, and exposes you to the largest and most economically powerful nation in South America.
If you have questions about satisfying the foreign language department through Spanish or Portuguese, or about majoring or minoring in Spanish or minoring in Portuguese, please contact Alicia Muñoz, chair (amuñoz@macalester.edu), or visit our website: www.macalester.edu/spanish
Alicia Muñoz, Chair
Welcome to the Theater and Dance Department!
Our department offers small academic and studio courses in which students are closely mentored by expert faculty. We encourage students without previous experience to try a beginning course in acting, dance, design, or playwriting. With the exception of dance technique courses, THDA classes count for your Fine Arts requirements. Many fulfill USID, Internationalism, various Writing and Q requirements.
In the fall 2021, the Theater and Dance Department will offer the First Year Course (FYC) THDA105, Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities.
Theater and Dance Audition Information
Auditions for theater productions and dance concerts are open to all students. First-year students are regularly cast in shows and dance concert pieces.
First-year student auditions for the Fall Theater Production will be on Sunday, August 29 and for the Fall Dance Concert on Monday, August 30. Keep your eye on the Theater and Dance Department website for more details.
Arts @ Mac: An Open House & Lunch Social
When you arrive on campus, keep an eye out for information on Arts @ Mac Welcome Week, sponsored by the departments of Music, Art and Art History, and Theater and Dance. Meet faculty, returning students and guest artists, and get information on auditions, backstage work opportunities, the curriculum and courses, and special events.
For more information visit our website: http://www.macalester.edu/theater-and-dance
Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento – Chair
The Urban Studies concentration is designed for students who major in a variety of disciplines and are interested in urbanization and wish to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on city life. Educational Studies 240, Geography 241, 261, or 262, History 284, or Political Science 204 provide an appropriate introduction to the urban studies program for first-year students. Please see the website for further information: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/urbanstudies/
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) as an academic program grows out of a history of real-life struggles by gendered, sexualized, racialized, classed, and other minorities for social and political justice. Based on that historical understanding of injustices and ongoing struggles, WGSS classes prepare students to better understand and see how systems of oppression as well as liberation are interlocked and connected. Students in WGSS develop practical and theoretical skills for understanding and engaging the social, cultural, economic, and political contexts shaping our world, in order to prepare to participate in post-Macalester professional lives. If you are interested in taking a WGSS course in your first semester, we recommend either “Introduction to WGSS: Transnational Perspectives” or “Introduction to WGSS:-LGBTQIA Studies.” These courses will provide a great foundation for later courses in the major such as “Whiteness and Post/Colonialism” and “Worlds Upside Down: Revolutions in Theories and Practices,” and ultimately, the WGSS capstone. This culminating experience links theory and practice, and is based in your experience with campus and off-campus communities or a topic that you really want to pursue in academics as well as in your post-Macalester career. Please see the WGSS website for course descriptions and more exciting information about our major and minor (www.macalester.edu/wgss).
Sonita Sarker, Chair