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.
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 2023 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 2023-2024 African Studies program directors Lisa Mueller and Moustapha Diop.
Our website is https://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: https://www.macalester.edu/academics/americanstudies/
Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Chair
The Anthropology Department emphasizes the holistic study of the human condition. Anthropologists study human diversity across time and space in both its cultural and biological dimensions, and explore the different ways in which we are, and can be, human.
In the Fall of 2023 we will be offering one First Year Course.
Prof. Olga Gonzalez – ANTH 251-F1: Politics of Memory in Latin America
This course examines and critically analyzes various approaches to the study of how different individuals and communities in particular historical and cultural scenarios in contemporary Latin America create meanings about their past experience with political violence. The course addresses questions related to the tension between remembering and forgetting, the presence of conflicting memories and truths and how these are negotiated or not through distinct forms of representation. The cultural analysis of different means of representation: human rights and truth commission reports, testimonials, film, art and memorials will be the basis for class discussions on different notions of truth and different forms of truth-telling. A close examination of these forms of representation will reveal the extent to which they can conflict with each other while at the same time feed on each other, creating “effects of truth” and leaving room for secrecy as a mode of truth-telling. Finally, the course will also compel students to think about what consequences the politics of memory have for the future.
For further information, see the department website: https://www.macalester.edu/academics/anthropology/
Arjun Guneratne, 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 First Year Courses for 2023-24:
- ART149 Introduction to Visual Culture (taught by art historian, Dr. Kari Shepherdson-Scott)
- ART194 Centering: Introduction to Ceramic Arts (taught by ceramicist, Summer Hills-Bonczyk)
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, https://www.macalester.edu/art/.
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 studying 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. 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 perspectives they have developed and guides them toward embracing a truly transnational and trans-regional perspective.
For more information on the faculty and the structure of each major see the department website.
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 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 Program Director:
Chuen Fung Wong
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. This is especially important for students who are also considering the major in Neuroscience and/or interested in a pre-health track.
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 ([email protected]) 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. 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
Sarah Boyer , 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 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 CHEM 111 formats 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. General Chemistry RISE (Refresher in STEM Education ) is a virtual, two week-long summer workshop open to all students considering taking CHEM 111. The workshop will include both pre-recorded videos exploring content as well as live, virtual problem-solving sessions where you will be able to work on the math skills necessary to be successful in General Chemistry with your future classmates led by peer mentors. You can read more about the program here. To register for the program, please fill out this Google Form by July 28, 2023. 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 ([email protected]) for access to the placement test. Please see the Chemistry Department web site (https://www.macalester.edu/academics/chemistry/) for more information.
We explore the languages, literatures, cultures, and archaeological remains of this region from Rome, across the Mediterranean basin, to the Middle East, Bactria and India 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.
Courses that are particularly appropriate for first year students this fall are CLAS 122 Roman World, Greek Myths CLAS 129, and CLAS 194 Ancient Comedy. Other good approaches for students interested in the field would be to begin a language (Elementary Latin, Arabic and Greek begin this fall: Arabic – CLAS 113, Greek – CLAS 115 and Latin CLAS -111).
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: https://www.macalester.edu/academics/classics/. Specific questions can be addressed to the department chair, Professor Nanette Goldman, at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you around the third floor of Old Main!
If you have studied Latin or Arabic previously, please consult the department website for how to place yourself into the right course: https://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-2023/home) or the program’s co-directors, Samuel Asarnow ([email protected]) and Leslie Myint ([email protected]).
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 six standard courses totalling 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 for 2023-24, 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
Liang Ding, Chair
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 designing dynamic educational environments in both formal and non-formal learning contexts. 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.
Educational Studies is excited to offer a First Year Course in the fall of 2023 called “We Demand: Student Power, World Building, and Democratizing Higher Education.” This course will be co-taught by Dr. Gonzalo Guzmán in Educational Studies and Hana Dinku, the Director of the Lealtad-Suzuki Center for Social Justice. The course will explore histories and practices of student activism to transform college campuses.
See the department website for more information www.macalester.edu/academics/education.
The English department is offering two great First Year Courses in Fall 2023. One is ENGL 150-F1, Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by Professor Michael Prior:
In this course, we will explore and develop the foundational skills of creative writing. We will hone our craft and build a respectful, collaborative writing community through a series of creative exercises, close reading assignments, and workshops (where we will have the opportunity to share and receive feedback on our own drafts). Over the semester, we will read and discuss poems and stories from a diverse group of published authors, focusing on what we might learn from their approaches to the page, while asking how, among so many unique voices, we might cultivate our own. This course requires us to devote a significant amount of time outside of class to reading the course texts and composing our own work: creative writing is a way to discover more about ourselves and the world, but such discovery requires attention, contemplation, and practice. Readings will include writing by Jhumpa Lahiri, Ocean Vuong, Jamaica Kincaid, Neil Gaiman, Joy Harjo, Haruki Murakami, Yanyi, and others.
The other first-year course is ENGL 194-F1, Movie Medievalisms, taught by Professor Coral Lumbley:
Were the Middle Ages as magical as Hollywood would have us think? Medieval movies show us knights in glittering armor, mysterious ladies with hidden powers, and sorcerers with dark secrets. From the gritty Last Duel to the campy King Arthur: Legend of the Sword to the irreverent Monty Python and the Holy Grail, audiences love medievalisms, or creative ways of representing the Middle Ages. How else to explain the success of fantasy films, shows, and books?
In this class, we will learn how fantasy and fiction come together in modern movies and the medieval texts they are based on. Each week, you’ll watch a movie and read a short text, then come to class for discussion-based analysis of how the two interact. For example, we’ll watch The Green Knight and read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, then talk about how lessons about courage, greatness, and queer attraction appear in each. Prepare for time-traveling conversations and multimodal projects (including papers and short films) that take a deep dive into modern fantasies about medieval life and culture.
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
Peter Bognanni, Chair
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 “Water and Power” (ENVI 252).
Other appropriate introductory courses for those interested in environmental studies include: Science of Renewable Energy (ENVI 130), Climate and Society (ENVI 150), Dynamic Earth/Global Change (ENVI 160), Ecology and the Environment (ENVI170), Environmental Justice (ENVI 237), Outdoor Environmental Education (ENVI 275).
Chris Wells, 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 world 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; ENVI 170 Ecology and Environment; and ENVI 234 US Environmental History. 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 2023 (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:
In Fall 2023, the department is offering one First-Year Course in English:
Professor Andrew Billing will teach “Health and Disease in an Age of Revolution: Medical Enlightenment and Social Reform in Eighteenth-Century France”
What does it mean to describe a society as “healthy” or “diseased,” or compare the illnesses or wellbeing of individuals to those of the “social body”? And can social institutions and practices be “diagnosed” and “cured”? In this course, we will explore how eighteenth-century French writers understood health and illness as conditions to which the individual body and mind were susceptible, and also as metaphors to understand society and conceptualize social reform.
Late eighteenth-century France experienced a Medical Enlightenment, in which advances in physiology and medicine led writers and social reformers to advocate for improvements in medical care and treatment, and lay the foundations for the emerging field of public health. On the eve of the French Revolution, however, a new French “medical science of man” also prescribed remedies for the diseases of society as well of individuals, aiming to restore both to conditions of health and vigor.
In the first part of the course, we will examine France’s Medical Enlightenment, and how it transformed understandings of the health and illness of individuals. We will examine how diseases were understood and treated and how medicine was taught and performed, including the “doctor wars” between doctors and surgeons. We will also consider access to care and the conditions of hospitals and clinics and their links to the repression of various forms of social “deviancy,” including vagrancy and prostitution. We will also examine how public health reformers emerged to denounce the “miasmatic” conditions of urban spaces caused by poverty, overcrowding, and poor sanitation. Finally, we will study the campaigns in favor of smallpox inoculation by leading French Enlightenment philosophers.
The second part of the course will focus on how French Enlightenment writers, literary authors, and social critics drew on metaphors of health and illness, as well as their own personal experiences of illness, to critique the practices and institutions of French society and propose social reforms. Themes that we will explore include education, the family and childcare; the social roles of women and men, including members of the “third sex”; and the health and disease of the political body, including in the domains of power and money. We will also consider how authors employed images of health and disease, and related images of vitality, transformation, and degeneration, to describe and justify or critique France’s relationship to the non-European world, including its colonies.
Our main course objective will be to think critically about how French intellectuals understood health and disease both as lived experiences and as images for social critique during the Enlightenment. We will also consider how our own conceptions of health and disease as lived experiences and social metaphors compare or differ from those of late eighteenth-century France.
Our readings will include short fiction and essays by authors including Louis-Sébastien Mercier; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Denis Diderot; Buffon; Émilie du Châtelet; Voltaire; Olympe de Gouges; Madame de Staël; the Abbé Sieyès; and Robespierre.
The class will be taught mainly in seminar/discussion format with some short lectures, debates and historical simulations, and a fieldtrip to the University of Minnesota’s Wangensteen Medical Library. Coursework will include a series of short papers, oral presentations, written exams, and one longer research paper. You will be expected to present and defend your ideas using arguments and evidence, and attempt to persuade and engage with the ideas of other students. All materials will be in English.
The FRENCH MAJOR consists of a minimum of nine courses beyond FREN 204 to include:
b) six advanced courses (300- and 400- level), including:
c) the senior capstone requirement;
d) an appropriate study abroad experience as approved by the department. The department will support an alternative immersive experience that will support their study of language and culture for French majors unable to study away.
The FRENCH MINOR consists of five courses beyond FREN 204 to include:
At least two courses at the 300 level and three additional French courses at the 300-400 levels. The department also strongly recommends that minors take FREN 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
Claude Cassagne: May 15-June 15
Moustapha El Hadji Diop: June 16-July 1
Joëlle Vitiello, Chair: July 1-20
Juliette Rogers: July 20-August 10
Andrew Billing: August 10-September 1
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), World Regional Geography: People, Places, and Globalization (GEOG 113), and Thinking Geographically: The Fundamentals of Human Geography (GEOG 115) are foundational courses, each of which introduces students to issues of human settlements, land use, and political order. Neotropical Landscapes (GEOG 239), Regional Geography of the US and Canada (GEOG 242), and The Political Geography of Nations and Nationalism (GEOG 248) 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 People, Agriculture and the Environment (GEOG 232), Urban Geography (GEOG 241), Population 8 Billion: Global Population and Trends (GEOG 254), Health Geography (GEOG 256), Geography of World Urbanization (GEOG 261), and Contemporary Mongolia: Livelihoods, Economies and Environments (GEOG 265). 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/.
Dan Trudeau, 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 introductory courses satisfy part of the quantitative thinking requirement at Macalester, and some also satisfy writing requirements. We are offering four introductory courses in Fall 2023 – Dinosaurs (GEOL 101), Geohazards (GEOL 105), Dynamic Earth and Global Change (GEOL160), and History/Evolution of Earth (GEOL 165). 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/
Alan Chapman, 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 “Environmental Humanities,” 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 literature, 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 2023 we are offering the first-year course GERM 194: “Our Cyborgs, Ourselves.” A cyborg is any technologically enhanced human being. But since the dawn of homo sapiens, humans have always been defined by their use of tools—or in other words, as technologically enhanced animals. Does that make us all cyborgs? In this course, students explore the figure of the cyborg across a wide range of cultural sources, from literature and film to material history and philosophy, asking questions such as: what does the cyborg in culture and theory tell us about the limits of the human? Where does culture begin and biology end? Why are cyborgs either hyper-gendered, androgynous, or both at the same time, and what does this tell us about gender?
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, [email protected], 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
Advisors: Elizabeth Jansen (Chair, Health Professions Advising Committee, Biology), Lin Aanonsen (Biology), Ron Barrett (Anthropology), Devavani Chatterjea (Biology), Kristi Curry Rogers (Chair, Biology), Mary Montgomery (Biology), Robin Shields-Cutler (Biology), Katy Splan (Chemistry), 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, two semesters of Physics, which can be PHYS 126 – Physics 1 and PHYS 127 – Physics II or PHYS 226 – Principles of Physics I and PHYS 227 – Principles of 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 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.
For more information, go to https://www.macalester.edu/hpa/.
Liz Jansen, Health Professions Advising
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 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 https://www.macalester.edu/academics/history/about/
Incoming students are welcome to enroll in 100- and 200-level classes.
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
Associate Professor in Political Science, Director of the Concentration in International Development
International Studies is one of Macalester’s enduring and 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 and global life 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 Capello ([email protected]) 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 the First-Year Courses, two contribute to the legal studies concentration:
PHIL 121-F1 Introduction to Ethics
POLI 207-F1 US Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
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 2023, these courses include:
ENGL 202-01 Great Detectives and Plots of Detection
HIST 228-01 The Law, Economy, and Family in the Anglo-American Tradition
PHIL 121-01 Introduction to Ethics
POLI 294-05 When Justice Goes Blind: The Problem of Wrongful Convictions
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 2023 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
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 220: Language and Music
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 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: https://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. Being in a single department allows us to take advantage of the interconnections between these disciplines, and to build synergies among them. 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 even students with AP statistics experience take that course.
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.
Susan Fox, chair, Computer Science coordinator
Andrew Beveridge, vice-chair, Mathematics coordinator
Vittorio Addona, vice-chair, Statistics coordinator
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 eleven courses toward the major. Seven 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 160: Culture, Power, Difference
- MCST 388: Advanced Research Topics
- MCST 621 – 624: Media Internships
- 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.
In addition to these courses, students will complete four department-approved elective courses.
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. There are two first-year courses for Fall 2023, “Music, Race, and Ethnicity,” and “Musical Fictions.” Either of these 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
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.
This fall the Philosophy Department is pleased to offer two First Year Courses:
PHIL 100-F1: Introduction to Philosophy: Love and Friendship (Prof. Geoffrey Gorham)
Description: The Philosopher Aristotle said “without friends no one would choose to live, though they had all other goods”. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1055a 5-7). It is not clear exactly what Aristotle means by this, but the high value he gives to friendship and love is shared by many other ancient Greek and Chinese Philosophers, such as Plato, Epicurus, and Confucius. This class will begin with an overview of central themes in ancient and contemporary philosophy — epistemology, metaphysics and ethics — and then undertake a detailed investigation of friendship and love: Why are friendship and love valuable? How do we become friends, and when should we break off friendships? With whom can we be friends: family members? pets? on-line friends? AI? Is ‘romantic’ love real or merely a social construction? Should we love only one other, or many, or everyone? Could it be good for us to have no friends, or should we have as many friends as possible? What role, if any, does gender play in friendship and love? What, if anything, do we owe to our friends and lovers? We will consider texts by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Sappho, Confucius, Montaigne, Kant, Emerson, de Beauvoir, Sartre, as well as several contemporary philosophical perspectives on friendship and love. We will also read works of literature, such as Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and love poems of Emily Dickinson, and view together several films, such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Your grade will be based on three short papers, two ‘take-home’ examinations, reading responses (‘convos’), and attendance/participation.
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 and -02: Introduction to Symbolic Logic
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 213-01 Philosophy of Mind
Description: Materialism, rather than solving the problem of mind, consciousness and intentionality, has spawned numerous philosophical perplexities. This course will examine a variety of philosophical problems associated with contemporary models of the mind (mind/body dualism; mind/brain identity theories; behaviorism; functionalism and artificial intelligence; eliminative naturalism and folk psychology; biological naturalism). The course will also look at contemporary philosophical accounts of personhood and personal identity, particularly narrative accounts of the self. Readings will typically include David Chalmers, Daniel Dennett, Owen Flanagan, Derek Parfit, Marya Schechtman, John Searle, Galen Strawson, and Kathleen Wilkes.
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, https://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 based on meeting the determined participation criteria for that course. Consult the Fall Schedule for current options.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy will offer one first-year course (FYC) in 2023.
Prof. Anna Williams ([email protected]) will teach PHYS194-01 (FYC), “The Solar System and Beyond”. Astronomers have confirmed the existence of over 5,300 exoplanets and nearly 4,000 planetary systems. These systems are light-years away, and our studies are limited to what we can observe with a telescope. Luckily, our solar system is rich with diverse objects, from rocky planets like our own Earth to gas giants with many moons to icy comets with ion tails. Understanding our own planetary system can show us what is possible in those further away. In this course, we will study the properties of solar system objects and their origins with an eye towards how these objects can help us learn more about extrasolar planetary systems. We will discuss the physical laws that govern our solar system and the results of recent planetary missions to investigate its objects more closely. In lab, we will explore observational techniques and analyze data, including observations acquired with Macalester’s robotic observatory in Arizona (the Robert L. Mutel Telescope, operated by the MACRO Consortium). High-school physics and calculus are recommended as this quantitative course will use mathematics at the introductory calculus level. Assignments will include problem sets, short papers, and a research paper.
General Education Requirements (tentative):
Writing WA, Quantitative Q1
Natural science and mathematics
Details about the physics major and required courses can be found at https://www.macalester.edu/academics/physics/majorsminors/.
John M. Cannon
Political Science is offering two First Year Courses.
Poli 120 – Foundations Of International Politics: Western and Non-Western Perspectives
This Foundations course is designed to introduce students to the study of International Relations (IR) as an academic discipline. The primary goal of the course is to develop a substantive understanding of the history of IR, both as a set of political realities and as a field of study. To this end, it first provides an overview of historical non-Western international systems (the international relations of the pre-modern Chinese, Indian, Islamic and other often-overlooked world orders). It then introduces students to key concepts, theories, and perspectives in contemporary International Relations. Next, it examines the defining processes, actors, and norms across the major domains of international relations: law/organization (sometimes called ‘global governance’), foreign policy, international security, and international political economy. Finally, it rounds out this foundational coverage with a consideration of the inherently “tragic” nature of international relations.
Each class session will be organized as a “lectorial” – that is, as a hybrid learning and teaching session that combines elements of both formal lecture (for delivery of content) and interactive seminar (for student group activities, discussion, etc). The structure and content are both intended primarily to prepare students for advanced work in the field of International Relations, although the course is also appropriate for those merely seeking to satisfy an interest in the study of international affairs.
This course fulfills the college’s WA and “Internationalism” general education requirements.
POLI 207: U.S. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
This course examines the struggle for justice, equality, and liberty in the United States, taking as its starting point the many issues and disputes that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to reading decisions of the Supreme Court, the course emphasizes the wider historical movements and cycles of constitutional politics. Major topics include speech, religion, privacy, many types of discrimination (including racial, gender, sexual orientation), aspects of the criminal justice system, and the regulation of guns. Interest in law is helpful but no background is required. Students able to bring perspectives from other national traditions are warmly welcomed.
Class time offers a mix of lecture, dialogue, and small group discussion. Short assignments include observing state and federal appellate courts in Minnesota. A longer assignment will involve writing a decision in the style of a judicial opinion in a case currently before the courts. Students will join in “moot court” activities involving oral arguments in the manner of American appellate courts, ending with an intramural tournament supported by the college’s moot court team. Political Science 207 also counts toward the Legal Studies concentration.
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 are welcome to enroll in any of the more focused courses that we offer at the 200-level. For more information, visit: https://www.macalester.edu/academics/politicalscience/ or contact the department chair, Lesley Lavery.
First year course: How We Remember, Learn, and Decide: Applied Cognitive Science
Professor Brooke Lea
How do people remember, learn, and make decisions? Philosophers have considered these questions for millennia, but in the last century the questions have been taken up in the relatively newer fields of psychology and cognitive science. Recently, significant progress has been made in applying our understanding of human cognition to larger societal goals and challenges. In this FYC, we will take a psychological approach to the study of human mental processes such as memory, attention, problem solving, and learning. Equipped with evidence-based theories of the mind’s sophisticated yet quirky workings, we will examine how recent advances can be used to dispel popular myths about human cognition, and point the way to societal improvements in the areas of criminal justice, education, and bias-reduction. Our readings will include both primary sources and popular writing from scholars and public intellectuals.
- 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
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.
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, and is the first step toward connecting with the 200+ million Russian speakers around the world.
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 2023, we will be offering a First Year Course titled Between Europe and Asia, which explores the history of peoples and spaces in Northern Eurasia from the medieval period to the fall of the Soviet Union. We will also offer Elementary Russian I, ideal for first-year students who are interested in starting the language (Intermediate Russian will be an option as well) and courses taught in English that have no prerequisites and are open to first-year students, including The Caucasus: From Ancient Histories to Modern Problems, and Terrorism and Art: The Spectacle of Destruction.
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 https://www.macalester.edu/russian
We invite you to visit our webpage: https://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 2023:
Prius or Pickup: Political Divides and Social Class (First Year Course section and regular section)
Introduction to Sociology
Children and Childhood in Times of Change and Crisis
Unequal Budgets: Taxing, Spending, and States of Inequality
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 2023 that may be of special interest to first-year students. First, Prof. Cynthia Kauffeld will teach a special topics section of Spanish 305 as a first-year course (FYC) titled Advanced Oral and Written Expression: Exploring Spanish in the United States. This course will explore cultural, literary, and linguistic topics related to the long-standing presence of Spanish in the United States and will address the common but mistaken notion of Spanish as a foreign language in this country. The class is taught in Spanish, counts toward the Spanish major and minor requirements, and is a prerequisite for many upper-level courses in the department. The course also satisfies the WA general education requirement (Argumentative Writing).
In addition, 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 Cynthia Kauffeld, Chair ([email protected]), or visit our website: www.macalester.edu/spanish
Cynthia Kauffeld, 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. 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 2023, 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.
An acting workshop with alumna Mandi Masden for first-year students only will take place on Saturday, September 2.
Auditions for the Fall Theater Production will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 & 10, with callbacks on Monday, September 11. Auditions for the Fall Dance Concert will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 & 10.
Keep your eye on the Theater and Dance Department website to sign up, and for information on times and additional 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: https://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. Economics 294-01, Educational Studies 260, Geography 241, 261, or 262, History 284, Political Science 204, or Sociology 294-02 provide an appropriate introduction to the urban studies program for first-year students. Please see the website for further information: https://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. 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 WGSS100 (“Intro to Women’s/Gender/Sexuality St: Intersectional Queer Approaches to Pandemics and Uprisings,” which is a First-Year Course) or WGSS220 (“Feminist Reconstructions: Utopias, Masculinities, and Race”). These courses will provide a great foundation for later courses in the major, 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).
Sonita Sarker, Chair