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.

Questions?

For general questions, contact the Academic Programs and Advising Office at academicprograms@macalester.edu or the Registrar’s Office at registrar@macalester.edu or visit the Registrar’s webpage.

 

Academic Departments/Programs A-H Academic Departments/Programs I-W
African Studies Interdepartmental Program
American Studies
Anthropology
Art and Art History
Asian Languages and Cultures
Asian Studies
Biology
Chemistry
Classical Mediterranean and Middle East
Cognitive Science
Community and Global Health

Critical Theory
Economics
Educational Studies
English
Environmental Studies
Food, Agriculture, and Society
French and Francophone Studies
Geography
Geology
German Studies
History
Human Rights and Humanitarianism
International Development
International Studies

Latin American Studies Program
Legal Studies Program
Linguistics
Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
Media and Cultural Studies
Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization
Music
Neuroscience

Philosophy
Physical Education
Physics and Astronomy
Political Science
Premedical Program
Psychology
Religious Studies
Russian Studies
Sociology
Spanish and Portuguese
Theatre and Dance
Urban Studies
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

African Studies Interdepartmental Program

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 2022 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 2022-2023 African Studies program directors Lisa Mueller and Moustapha Diop.

Our website is http://www.macalester.edu/academics/africanstudies/

Contact:

Lisa Mueller
lmueller@macalester.edu

Moustapha Diop
ediop@macalester.edu

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American Studies

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/

Contact:
Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Chair
sanjuan@macalester.edu 

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Anthropology

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 2022 we will be offering one First Year Course.

Prof. Arjun Guneratne – ANTH 194: Food and Culture

Human foodways aren’t just about nutrition. That is perhaps the least of their significance. What people eat, how they eat and with whom they eat (and don’t eat) is about identity and belonging, social status and gender relations, power and dominance—in short, it is about being human. Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. Anthropologists study how our species evolved, how it varies over time and space, to discover what all human beings, who appear so different from each other in custom, habits, and ways of being in the world, have in common. To be human is to imbue things with meaning; we are the meaning making animal, and our behavior is shaped by the meaning we give to things. So it is with food. We separate what is edible into food and not-food and we are the only animal that can starve in the midst of plenty.

This course introduces you to how anthropologists study the relationship of food to culture. We begin with the transition to agriculture from foraging and hunting (the foodway that dominated most of human existence) and then focus on how food creates community and shapes identity, class and gender, how it foregrounds social hierarchies and shapes communal solidarities. In doing so, it introduces you also to the discipline of anthropology. No exams, but a lot of writing.

For further information, see the department website: http://www.macalester.edu/academics/anthropology/

Contact:
Scott Legge, Chair
slegge@macalester.edu

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Art and Art History

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 First Year Courses for 2022-23:

  1.     Painting 1
  2.     Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt

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 prerequisites.  Additional information can be found on the department website, http://www.macalester.edu/art/.

Contact:
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Chair
kshepher@macalester.edu

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Asian Languages and Cultures

The Asian Languages and Cultures Department is home to students studying Japanese and Chinese language, literature, film, linguistics, media, and intellectual history. Our curriculum views East Asia not merely as an object of study but as a perch from which to think about contemporary and historical issues from race and gender to ethics, aesthetics, education, and more. Through their study of China and Japan, students encounter perspectives very different from those prevalent in the U.S. And after two years of language study, students travel to Asia for immersive study in places like Beijing, Hangzhou, Taipei, Tokyo, or Osaka. This first-hand cultural experience – living abroad and interacting with local people – prompts self-reflection. Students come to understand both Western and Eastern perspectives, to see through their differences, and to think beyond simple “East” versus “West” binaries. After students return from abroad, advanced coursework at Macalester helps them further refine the nuanced perspectives they have developed and guides them toward embracing a truly transnational and trans-regional perspective on important issues of our day including race, gender, aesthetics, language, and more.

For more information on the faculty and the structure of each major see the department website.

Contact:
Rivi Handler-Spitz, Chinese
rhandlerspitz@macalester.edu

Satoko Suzuki, Japanese
suzuki@macalester.edu

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Asian Studies

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 century. 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 interdisciplinary 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/

Contact:
Holly Barcus
651-696-6139
barcus@macalester.edu

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Biology

If you are considering majoring in Biology, the most important thing to do in the fall semester, first year, 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;  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.

You can place into CHEM 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 (mrodwogi@macalester.edu) for access to the placement test.  Dr. Rodwogin can also answer questions about placing out of CHEM 111 and into CHEM 112 based on AP or IB scores.

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 saved for incoming first year students. Any one of these courses would be a perfect place to begin your Biology journey. In the Fall of 2022, there will be two sections of BIOL 170, including one designated as a First Year Course.  The fourth “core” biology course, Cell Biology (BIOL 200) has prerequisites of Genetics (BIOL 190) and CHEM 112. This course is 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

Contact:
Sarah Boyer , Chair
boyer@macalester.edu

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Chemistry

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 CHEM 111 and CHEM 112 in a single semester. CHEM 111 and 115 are offered only in the fall and CHEM 112 is offered only in the spring.  We urge all entering students considering majors in chemistry or biology, or those seeking admission to medical school or another health profession graduate program, to take either CHEM 111 or CHEM 115 in their first semester.  You have two “versions” of CHEM 111 to choose from:  In some sections,  in-class time is used primarily for lecturing; practicing problem-solving is primarily outside of class.  In other sections, in-class time is used primarily for practicing problem solving; students watch lecture videos outside of class.  Please register for a CHEM 111 section that matches your preferred learning style.  You can place into CHEM 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 (mrodwogi@macalester.edu) for access to the placement test.  Please see the Chemistry Department web site (http://www.macalester.edu/academics/chemistry/) for more information.

Contact:
Keith Kuwata
kuwata@macalester.edu

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The Classical Mediterranean and Middle East

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 Beth Severy-Hoven will be teaching an FYC in the fall on Life in the Roman Empire. Novels, poetry and satire provide a window into this ancient world — a window tantalizing for its details, humor, foreignness and familiarity, as well as clouded by its elite, male and slave-owning biases. Students will explore a variety of Roman literary texts and how scholars have used them to reconstruct everyday life. Other courses in Classical Mediterranean and Middle East with reserved seats for incoming first-year students in fall 2022 include CLAS 135: India and Rome, which will explore the relationship between empire and religion from Rome to India in the world’s crossroads for the thousand years between Alexander and the rise of Islam; and CLAS 121: Greek World, which will survey the political, economic, and cultural development of the peoples of the ancient Greek 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 the department chair, Professor Nanette Goldman, at goldman@macalester.edu. 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/.

Contact:
Nanette Goldman
goldman@macalester.edu

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Cognitive Science

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.

Contact:
Brooke Lea
lea@macalester.edu

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Community and Global Health

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-2022/home) or the program’s co-directors, Vittorio Addona (addona@macalester.edu) and Samuel Asarnow (sasarnow@macalester.edu).

Contact:
Vittorio Addona
addona@macalester.edu

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Critical Theory

Unless otherwise indicated, the 100-level critical theory courses offered in the fall semester are appropriate for first-year students. Those at the 200 level are typically accessible for first-years keenly interested in the subject matter.  If in doubt, simply email the relevant instructor, finding their email on the Mac online directory.

A Critical Theory concentration consists of 24 credits: five courses selected from both “Core” and “Elective” classes, and one advanced course or project, typically in the senior year, which generates a lengthy research paper. This last requirement is often combined with the student’s 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 David Chioni Moore.

Contact:
David Moore
mooredc@macalester.edu

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Economics

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

Contact:
Liang Ding, Chair
651-696-6822
ding@macalester.edu

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Educational Studies

Educational Studies is an interdisciplinary field centered on social inquiry, imagination, and advocacy. The major includes participation in thematically related courses (32 credits), community and 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. Both emphases prepare students to engage in educational transformation through policy and practice.

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.

Contact:
Brian Lozenski
651-696-6028
blozensk@macalester.edu

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English

The English department is offering two great First Year Courses in Fall 2022. One is ENGL 125-F1, Studies in Literature: Ecstasy and the Apocalypse, Literature of the Extreme, taught by Professor Daylanne English, who says:

In this discussion-based first-year course, we will study how literature represents extreme human experiences, both joyful and miserable. As we closely read a wide range of works, we will ask ourselves aesthetic and ethical questions: Must literary form stretch to represent the extreme? Must artists, musicians, and writers invent new forms when faced with unprecedented traumas, including pandemic and climate change? How might literature help us to understand the end of a world, or a people, or a way of life? Might literature also help us imagine a future in these seemingly apocalyptic times? How might it offer us understanding and solace, even joy, in the present? We will read primarily fiction, along with poetry, nonfiction and a graphic narrative, to investigate whether other genres and modes work differently at, and with, the extreme. We will also view films and listen to music to discover whether other media may offer alternative, and possibly better, ways to represent ecstasy and apocalypse. Texts, among others, may include: A Handmaid’s Tale, MAUS, Life on Mars, Parable of the Talents, The Book of Delights, and Silent Spring.

The other first-year course is ENGL 150-F1, Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by Professor Matt Burgess:

This course will focus on the basic elements of creative writing. Students will be asked to read and discuss published work by writers across a wide range of cultures, to support one another through peer workshops, and to write multiple drafts of short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Throughout the semester our focus will be on creating an artistic community that encourages everyone to discover and nurture their own individual creative voice, and then to express that voice with force and conviction.

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 other sections of ENGL 150 as well.

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.

For more information about the English Department, see the department website www.macalester.edu/academics/english

Contact:
Peter Bognanni, Chair
bognanni@macalester.edu

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Environmental Studies

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 “Climate and Society” (ENVI 150).

Other appropriate introductory courses for those interested in environmental studies include: Dynamic Earth/Global Change (ENVI 160), Ecology and the Environment (ENVI170), Convergence: Art/Science/Design in Our City (ENVI 264), and Food and Farming (ENVI 294).

Contact:
Chris Wells, Chair
wells@macalester.edu

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Food, Agriculture and Society

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: ANTH 194/369 Food & Culture (1st yr & regular versions); Geog 243 Geography of Africa (1st yr course); GEOG 232 People, Agriculture and the Environment; and ENVI 170 Ecology and Environment. Contact the Program Director with specific questions.

Contact:
Bill Moseley, Program Director
651-696-6126
moseley@macalester.edu

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French and Francophone Studies

The Department of French and Francophone Studies welcomes all students of French and offers the possibility of studying French at all levels in Fall 2022 (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: 

https://www.macalester.edu/french/languageplacement/

In Fall 2022, the department is offering one First-Year Course in English:

Professor Juliette Rogers will teach Persist, Resist, Rebel: Women of France and Canada

What are the influences that cause certain women to become revolutionaries or activists, outcasts or criminals? How does gender identity, social class, race and education affect those decisions? To answer these questions, this course will examine representations of women who push boundaries and break the rules in films and texts from France and Canada. We will also study certain historical figures from both countries, including Marie-Antoinette, Coco Chanel, Jeanne Mance, and Marguerite Bourgeoys, as well as activists today who continue to question the limits that society tries to impose. The entire course, including readings and discussions, will be in English. No previous knowledge of French culture or language is required for this course.

The FRENCH MAJOR is nine courses:

1) 306 and another 300-level bridge course equivalent (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) a 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: https://www.macalester.edu/french/#/0

Contact:

Joëlle Vitiello May 22-29; June 4-14; June 20-28; July 1-15
vitiello@macalester.edu

Claude Cassagne
ccassagn@macalester.edu

Juliette Rogers
jmrogers@macalester.edu

Moustapha El Hadji Diop
ediop@macalester.edu

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Geography

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, land change science, 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 foundational courses, each of which introduces students to issues of human settlements, land use, and political order. Geography of Africa: Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context (GEOG 243) and Population 8 Billion: Global Population Issues and Trends (GEOG 254) 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 welcome incoming students, such as Geography of Environmental Hazards (GEOG 258), Geography of World Urbanization (GEOG 261), Metro Analysis (GEOG 262), and Earth and Environment: Elements of Physical Geography (GEOG 294-01).  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 https://www.macalester.edu/geography/.

Contact:
Dan Trudeau, Chair
651-696-6872
trudeau@macalester.edu

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Geology

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 introductory courses satisfy part of the quantitative thinking requirement at Macalester, and some also satisfy writing requirements. We are offering three introductory courses in Fall 2022 – Dynamic Earth and Global Change (GEOL160), Geology of National Parks (GEOL 194-2), and Land/Water (GEOL 194-1). Any of our intro courses would be an excellent way to explore the department and the field!

See the department website for more information  https://www.macalester.edu/geology/

Contact:
Alan Chapman, Chair
651-696-6462
chapman@macalester.edu

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German Studies

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, philosophy, politics, and the environment to cinema and the media. Although new courses are often introduced, recurrent titles include “Cinema Studies,” “A Kafkaesque Century,” “Migration, Then & Now,” “Dead White Men in the era of Anti-racism”—a course reading major  philosophers since the 16th century and critical theory—“Spinoza’s Eco-Society,” “Freedom and Its Discontents,” “Metaphysics in Secular Thought”—with partial focus on political theory—“Value”—with partial focus on aesthetic theory—and various courses on Marx.

In Fall 2022 we are offering two first-year courses. “Marx and Art” examines how artists and intellectuals in the Marxist tradition theorize and attempt to mobilize the revolutionary power of art, from socialist fairy tales, avant garde poetry and theater, to street murals, performance art, and film. “Vampires—from Monsters to Superheroes” focuses on the metaphor of the vampire for the past 100+ years in literature and film, examining the transition in our imagination of vampires from monsters to hip, outsider superheroes, and the different social contexts in which they were created.

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. Michael Powers, mpowers@macalester.edu, 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

Contact:
Kiarina Kordela, Chair
kordela@macalester.edu

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History

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. These approaches increase 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, the Macalester College History Department has recently refashioned itself around two new currents in the profession: decolonization and indigeneity in global history. These themes emphasize 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 detail. 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 2022 courses that First-Year Students might find interesting include:

HIST 113-F1 Time Travelers:  Tourism in Global History (our FYC)
HIST 114-01  History of Africa to 1800
HIST 154-01  African Life Histories
HIST 194-01  Black Music, Black History
HIST 213-01  Women in African History
HIST 274-01  The Great Tradition in China before 1840
HIST 275-01  The Rise of Modern China
HIST 276-01  The Great Tradition in Japan before 1853
HIST 281-01  The Andes:  Landscape and Power
HIST 294-01  Listen Closely: Oral History

Contact:
Walter Greason
wgreason@macalester.edu

Katrina Phillips
kphilli2@macalester.edu

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Human Rights and Humanitarianism Interdepartmental Program

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.

Contact:
James Dawes
dawes@macalester.edu

Juliette Rogers
jmrogers@macalester.edu

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International Development

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

Contact:
Amy Damon
651-696-6862
adamon@macalester.edu

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International Studies

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/

Contact:
Ahmed Samatar
samatar@macalester.edu

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Latin American Studies Program

Students with an interest in Latin American Studies (LAS) should follow these steps:

  1. Send a brief email to LAS Director Ernesto Capello (ecapello@macalester.edu) 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 or Portuguese course.
  1. Visit Latin American Studies Program to learn more.

Contact:
Ernesto Capello
ecapello@macalester.edu

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Legal Studies Program

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 2022 is a first-year course:

PHIL 121-F1     Ethics

Students interested in taking a Legal Studies-qualified course in their first semester could also look to any of the courses at the 100 or 200 level that qualify for the concentration. In Fall 2022, these also include:

AMST 231-01  Sovereignty Matters: Critical Indigeneity, Gender and Governance
HIST 225-01    Native History to 1871
PHIL 121-01    Ethics (non-first year course section)
PHIL 224-01    Philosophy of Law
POLI 206-01    US Constitutional Law and Thought
SOCI 294-01    Authoritarian Legality in an Age of Democratic Decline

There are no required courses and no single path through the concentration, so you may want to begin in an area close to your background, interests, or possible major field of study, and then build outward in later years.

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 2022 or the concentration, please contact one of the Co-Directors of Legal Studies.

Contact:
Patrick Schmidt, Professor of Political Science
651-696-6147
schmidtp@macalester.edu

or

Erik Larson, Professor of Sociology
651-696-6309
larsone@macalester.edu

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Linguistics

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, including an FYC.  These courses have no prerequisites.

Ling 100: An Introduction to Linguistics 

The aim of this course is to make you aware of the complex organization and systematic nature of language, the primary means of human communication. In a sense, you will be studying yourself, since you are a prime example of a language user. 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. There are no prerequisites, but this course is the prerequisite for almost every higher level course within the linguistics major.

Ling 104: Sounds of World’s Languages 

In this course you will be trained to produce and recognize (almost) all the  speech 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: Language and Music (FYC)

Language and music are two uniquely human enterprises with a number of parallels: both rely on sound and/or signs, display hierarchical organization and culturally-specific practices, and can convey both communicative and social meaning. This course examines the intersection of language and music from a linguistic perspective. We will engage with questions such as: How can language change when it’s sung instead of spoken? How do speakers of tone languages understand lyrics in sung melodies? Is hip hop different in different languages? How are signed languages used in music? Can music help people learn languages? How do drummed and whistled languages work? How can music contribute to language revitalization? Does the way we talk about music affect how we perform or listen to it? This class will be a mix of discussion, hands-on explorations, and in-class group activities. Students will also conduct real-world participant-observation research, and complete a final project in radio broadcast form. No musical experience is required.

Ling 294: Language Taboos

All languages have “bad” words and phrases—things people aren’t supposed to say (but sometimes say anyway). Some such language taboos express rage, while others provoke laughter. Some have changed little in a thousand years, while others first appeared on TikTok. Some are both labels of hate and forms of self-reference. They all invite fascinating questions: How do expressions become “bad” in the first place? Are they all bad in the same way? Why do people use taboo language, and what happens when they do? How do people avoid using it? In Language Taboos, we explore the nature of “bad” words from a linguistic perspective. We examine their histories, functions, and diversity across languages and cultures. We explore such topics as curses and swearing, innuendos, slurs, and culturally specific taboos, such as reference to dirty things, sacred concepts, revered people, and particular family members. Special emphasis is placed on understanding language taboos in national and global contexts, both historically and in the internet age.

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/

Contact:
Christina Esposito, Chair
esposito@macalester.edu

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Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science

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 offers 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).

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.

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.

Contact:
Susan Fox, chair
fox@macalester.edu

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Media and Cultural Studies

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.

Contact:
Morgan Adamson
madamson@macalester.edu

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Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization Interdepartmental Program

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

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Music

All students may participate in the Music Department, which offers courses, ensembles, and lessons in a variety of musical traditions. The first-year course for Fall 2022, “J.S. Bach and the Modern Passion Tradition,” 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.  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 through the department office.

See the department website for more information www.macalester.edu/academics/music

Contact:
Randy Bauer
rbauer@macalester.edu

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Neuroscience

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 https://www.macalester.edu/neuroscience/ for more information.

Contact:
Eric Wiertelak
wiertelak@macalester.edu

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Philosophy

This fall the Philosophy Department is pleased to offer two First Year Courses:

PHIL 100-F1: Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of the Future (Prof. Geoffrey Gorham)
Description: We all hope and work for a bright future, even if we sometimes fear the worst. But what exactly is this future we care so much about, and for what sort of future should we strive? This class introduces fundamental problems of philosophy by exploring metaphysical, epistemological and ethical problems about the future. We begin with the central concerns of philosophy itself: what is real? what do I know? what is good? what really matters? We then consider the puzzling nature of the future, which we value immensely, and worry about, as though it is fully real. Are the past and present more real than the future? This raises interesting questions of our moral attitude to the future: do we have obligations to persons and generations that do not yet exist or no longer exist? Might we have an obligation to ensure that someone does (or does not) exist in the future? Future humans will face ethical issues that are worth thinking about in the present. For example, is it acceptable for future humans to colonize other planets as past humans have colonized other continents? There are a number of threats that may prevent a human future altogether: pandemics, war, climate change. How do we gauge these threats and act accordingly? And if it turns out we are doomed, how would this affect the meaning of the life we have left? If we survive, human nature is likely to undergo significant change with the rise of technologies like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. Are these enhancements good for us? Are we ready to become ‘trans-human’? Finally, how can we (in the present) ensure a good future for those to come?

PHIL 121-F1: Ethics (Prof. Samuel Asarnow)
Description: What matters in life? Is pleasure the only thing that matters? If so, whose pleasure should I pursue—just my own, my family’s, or everyone’s? Does suffering matter, too? What about the suffering of non-human animals? Is it okay for me to make animals suffer in order for me to enjoy the pleasure of eating their flesh? Or how about the suffering of people who are really far away from me—say, on another continent? Is it okay for me to spend money on cool stuff for myself when instead I could donate it to help people who are suffering very badly far away? If things in life other than pleasure matter too, what are they? People who oppose torture think that it’s wrong to hurt one person really badly even in order to prevent a large number of people from being hurt. Are they right? Is it always wrong to treat someone as merely a means to an end? Is it in general wrong to do things to people without their consent? Why? When do people deserve to be praised or blamed for their actions? What kind of person should I be? Should I try to be happy? Or should I try to be virtuous? Is virtue its own reward? Or are we all inevitably faced with a choice between being virtuous and being happy? If we are faced with that choice, which one should we pick? In Ethics, we will talk about these questions, and others.

Non-FYC sections of both PHIL 100 and PHIL 121 are also available. Other courses suitable for first year students include:

PHIL 111-01: Introduction to Symbolic Logic (Prof. Janet Folina)
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.

PHIL 221-01: Environmental Ethics (Prof. Amy Ihlan)
Description: Emerging in the 1970s, the field of environmental ethics began by sparking a rich line of philosophical inquiry largely focused on the moral status of the natural world and the non-human entities within it. What reasons do we have to give moral consideration to the environment? And what do we mean when we say we have a moral duty toward the environment? Do we have moral duties to individuals within a species, or to species themselves, or to ecosystems, or to…? This course will invite you to reflect on key philosophical works that engage these and related questions. You will also have the opportunity to think about significant emerging topics in environmental ethics. Depending on the semester, these may include the debate over the ethics of wilderness preservation; the challenges of expanding environmental ethics to address issues of global climate change and resource sustainability; environmental rights; and environmental justice.

PHIL 224-01: Philosophy of Law (Prof. Amy Ihlan)
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.

PHIL 294-01: Freedom and its Discontents (Prof. David Martyn)
Description: “Free choice is the only miracle the moderns recognize” (Karol Berger). Freedom currently occupies an ambiguous place in our collective state of mind: while the Right takes to the streets in the name of freedom, MLK’s ringing refrain, “free at last,” continues to resonate in the Left’s calls for social justice. Both camps typically rely on the same underlying concept of what freedom is: something an individual exercises with their free will. In this course, we will work to gain a measure of distance on this common view of freedom by counterposing it with premodern as well as modern strains of thought that go against the grain of classical liberalism. Readings from Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Arendt, Buck-Morss, Mbembe, Badiou, Ahmad Yousif, and others. Weekly reading responses; three mid-length papers with revisions. No prerequisites, but be prepared to work your way through some densely argued texts.

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. Samuel Asarnow, http://www.macalester.edu/academics/philosophy/

Hope to see you in a philosophy class at Macalester in the fall!

Contact:
Samuel Asarnow
sasarnow@macalester.edu

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Physical Education

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 based on meeting the determined participation criteria for that course.  Consult the Fall Schedule  for current options.

Contact:
Steve Murray
smurray1@macalester.edu

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Physics & Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy will offer one first year course (FYC) in 2022.

Prof. James Heyman (heyman@macaleseter.edu) will teach PHYS194-01, “Nanoscience”.  Nanoscience is the science of matter on the nanometer length scale.  This interdisciplinary field sits at the convergence of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science and Electrical Engineering.  The course will discuss the properties of nanometer scale objects and how they are fabricated and introduce some of their technological applications.  This quantitative course will use mathematics at the introductory calculus level, and high-school physics and calculus are recommended. Assignments will include readings, problem sets, short papers and a research paper.  Nancoscience 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):
Writing WA
Distribution Requirements:
Natural science and mathematics

Details about the physics major and required courses can be found at http://www.macalester.edu/academics/physics/majorsminors/.

Contact:
John M. Cannon
jcannon@macalester.edu

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Political Science

Political Science is offering one First Year Course.

Professor Lisa Mueller’s POLI 242: Political Economy of Development helps students answer questions about politics and economics in the developing world. For example: What explains global disparities in peace and prosperity? Is democracy good for the poor? Does foreign aid work? The main objective is to use social science and argumentative writing to describe and explain development outcomes. The course equips students to contribute in a sophisticated way to ongoing scholarly and policy-oriented debates.

The department also reserves places for entering students in our introductory courses, including Foundations of U.S. Politics (do NOT register if you’ve taken AP US Government), Foundations of Comparative Politics, Foundations of International Politics, and Foundations of Political Theory. 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.

Contact:
Lesley Lavery
llavery@macalester.edu

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Premedical Program

Advisors: Lin Aanonsen (Biology), Ron Barrett (Anthropology), Devavani Chatterjea (Biology), Kristi Curry Rogers (Biology), Elizabeth Jansen (Director, Health Professions Advising and Biology), Mary Montgomery (Biology), Robin Shields-Cutler (Biology), Kathryn Splan (Chemistry), and Jaine Strauss (Psychology)

Students interested in pursuing a health profession (e.g., medicine, nursing, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, dentistry, etc.) should consult one of the premedical advisors very early in their first year for academic advice and should join the mailing lists for Health Professions Advising 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); Physics I and Physics II, which can be PHYS 226 – Principles of Physics I and PHYS 227 – Principles of Physics II, or a non-calculus-based physics course such as PHYS 116 – Introduction to Physics I and PHYS 117 – Introduction to Physics II; 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 a required or strongly recommended prerequisite at most 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 from school to school, so you should consult your premedical advisor before deciding about courses to take in effort to 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 and goals of each student. Regular forums and seminars are presented on appropriate topics in research, ethics, application procedures and interview skills. There are a variety of internships and summer opportunities that enable students to conduct research and explore health professions.

Contact:
Liz Jansen, Health Professions Advising
jansen@macalester.edu

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Psychology

First year course: Introduction to Psychology
Associate Professor Cari Gillen-O’Neel

This course will introduce you to essential ideas, controversies, and research in the broad field of psychology. Through lectures, reading, writing, discussion, and activities, you will learn the biological, cognitive, social, and cultural factors that influence how and why humans think and behave in the ways that we do. Because this class is introductory, we will move quickly through many topics. This course also has a lab component. You will meet in a separate lab section for an additional 1.5 hours per week. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on experience with psychological research. The lab section has its own syllabus and requirements. As an active participant in this course, you will:

  • Identify the major subfields of psychology and summarize the major research findings in each of these subfields
  • Learn how to think like a psychologist and use some of the methods that psychologists use to answer questions about human thought and behavior
  • Become an informed consumer of research claims
  • Achieve a greater understanding of yourself and others by applying psychological findings to everyday life
  • Improve your writing skills by writing and revising several papers (this course fulfills a WA general education requirement)

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

Contact:
Darcy Burgund
651-696-6022
dburgund@macalester.edu

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Religious Studies

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: RELI 110-F1: Big Questions, Bill Hart, Religious Studies Department.  What is religion? What causal powers does religion produce? How does religion work? Why are people religious? What is the future of religion? In the process of addressing these five questions, we will consider others such as: What are the broad similarities and differences among various religions across culture and time? Some people describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. What does that mean? We shall explore religion as a practice of constructing similarities and differences that recruits virtually every issue that humans find important. Birth, puberty, and death; sex, money, and power; ethics and politics; humanity, divinity, and animality, earth and sky are all part of the religious imagination.

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

Contact:
William Hart, Chair
651-696-6596
whart1@macalester.edu

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Russian Studies

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 2022, we will be offering Elementary Russian I, ideal for first-year students who are interested in starting the language (Intermediate and Advanced Russian will be options as well) and courses taught in English that are open to first-year students, including Between Europe and Asia, a course exploring the history of peoples and spaces in Northern Eurasia from the medieval period to the fall of the Soviet Union, and Revolution, Repression, and Resistance, a course on Soviet and Post-Soviet literature and culture.

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

Contact:
Julia Chadaga
chadaga@macalester.edu
Jim von Geldern
vongeldern@macalester.edu

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Sociology

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 2022:

Immigrant Voices in Times of Fear (First Year Course)
Introduction to Sociology
Care versus Cure: The Sociology of Disability
How College Works

Contact:
Erik Larson, Chair
larsone@macalester.edu
651-696-6309

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Spanish and Portuguese

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 2022 that may be of special interest to first-year students. Prof. Molly Olsen will teach a first-year topics course (FYC) titled This is Not Your Private Island: Caribbean Cultures of Decolonization. The Caribbean islands are home to some of the most vibrant, multiethnic cultural landscapes in the world. In fact, the Caribbean was global centuries before the term globalization came into vogue. But the historical traumas of conquest, slavery and colonialism continue to fuel contemporary struggles against neocolonial structures that serve tourism, “free” trade, and a worldwide culture of consumption. In this course, our objective is to explore the ways in which Caribbean literature, art and performance offer powerful tools of decolonization in the struggle to protect cultural sovereignty as well as ecological diversity. To that end, we will learn how Caribbean writers, intellectuals, artists, and musicians confront the various challenges that islands of the region face, including political domination, racism, poverty, sexism, toxicity and transmigration. The course will challenge commonly-held notions of the Caribbean as merely a site for leisure and pleasure. This course is taught in English and seeks to build skills in critical thinking and argumentative writing. As such, it is discussion-based and prioritizes student-led learning. Reading expectations are moderate (50-60 pages per week).

Prof. Alicia Muñoz will teach Spanish for Heritage Speakers. 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.”

If you have questions about satisfying the foreign language requirement through Spanish or Portuguese, or about majoring or minoring in Spanish or minoring in Portuguese, please contact Alicia Muñoz, chair (amunoz@macalester.edu), or visit our website: www.macalester.edu/spanish

Contact:
Alicia Muñoz, Chair
amunoz@macalester.edu

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Theater and Dance

Welcome to the Theater and Dance Department!

Our department offers small academic and studio courses in which students are closely mentored by expert faculty. Our curriculum includes advanced classes for those interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. We also encourage students without previous experience to try a beginning course in acting, dance, design, or playwriting. Always make sure to contact the instructor if you do not meet prerequisites for a given course; oftentimes, first-year students have past experience that will ease them into such learning opportunities.

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 2022, the Theater and Dance Department will offer two sections of 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 Macalester students. First-year students are regularly cast in theater productions 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

Contact:
Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento – Chair
tatinge@macalester.edu

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Urban Studies Interdepartmental Program

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 260, 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/

Contact:
Brian Lozenski
blozensk@macalester.edu

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Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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.  Prof. Myrl Beam and Prof. Sonita Sarker are the core department faculty who cover issues relating to trans identities and transnational contexts respectively; they both analyze culture, media, and political activism in the context of neoliberal capitalism and globalization.  Based on a 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 on 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, honors and internships, and much more! (www.macalester.edu/wgss).

Contact:
Sonita Sarker, Chair
sarker@macalester.edu

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