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Cultivating Excellence: Snapshots of Five Fall Courses

A message from President Suzanne Rivera

Each year, our first-rate faculty and staff members offer more than 800 courses for our students. These rigorous and wide-ranging courses challenge our students and help them grow. Academic excellence is a key component of the Macalester experience, and I’m inspired by the work that our faculty and students put in together, as teachers and learners. Here are snapshots of five courses being offered during the fall semester that began Sept. 1. 

First-year Course: Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities (Theater and Dance) 
Professor Wynn Fricke and Professor Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento

First-year students attend live dance and theater performances in the Twin Cities and articulate their individual reactions by writing reviews, responses, and essays. In this process of studied spectatorship, students are acquiring the vocabularies of the field. Readings include seminal texts in dance and theatre criticism, as well as manifestos and scholarly articles. Performance venues include the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Northrop, and the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. 

In Motion: African Americans in the United States (African Americans in Digital Technologies) (History) 
Professor Walter Greason 

This course introduces students to modern African American History from slavery to contemporary times, emphasizing the idea that both African Americans and the stories of their lives in the U.S. are fluid, varied, and continually being reinterpreted. Rather than a strict chronological survey, this course is organized around important themes including, movement/mobility/migration; work/labor; resistance to systems of oppression; gender/ sexuality/culture/performance; politics/citizenship; and sites of (re)memory. While the course is geographically situated in the U.S., students also are considering African American life, culture, thought, and resistance through global perspectives. 

Software Design and Development (Mathematics, Statistics, & Computer Science)
Professor Lian Duan

In this introduction to the problem of building software with humans and for humans, students work in teams to design and implement a semester-long, user-facing software project of their own invention. There are no limitations on topic or technology—students are responsible for imagining possibilities, articulating goals, and researching and selecting suitable technologies. The studio-art-class format includes in-class discussion guided by sharing and critiquing classmates’ ongoing work. Teams will give a public demonstration of their working projects at the end of the semester.

Science of Renewable Energy (Physics and Environmental Studies)  
Professor James Doyle

In this course, students explore the current status of the most promising alternative and renewable energy options from a primarily scientific and technological perspective. After a brief review of current methods of electricity generation and transportation energy sources (fossil fuels, nuclear fission, and hydroelectric), including a discussion of their limitations and environmental consequences, the course focuses on understanding the scientific basis of alternative and renewable energy sources, and their promise and technological challenges for wide scale implementation. Biofuels, wind, photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, hydrogen, nuclear fusion, and geothermal will be considered in depth.

Race in Developing Lives (Psychology) 
Professor Cari Gillen-O’Neel

For children to thrive in our increasingly diverse world, they must be prepared to engage with issues of race and racism. Children need to develop positive racial identities and learn how to navigate the racial privilege or discrimination that they will face in our society. Two of the best places for children to learn about race is from their parents and teachers, yet adults often struggle with these topics. Should we teach our children to be “colorblind,” or should we teach them to notice race? When is the right age to start these conversations? For families and schools that are committed to equity and justice, how can we ensure that these values are passed on to our kids? In this class, students draw from developmental, educational, social psychological, and social justice perspectives to generate answers to these questions and more. 

To see a complete list of fall course offerings, visit the Fall 2021 Class Schedule page.

September 17, 2021