Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Center for Integrative Studies

Director, 2009-10: Mary Titus (English)

Program Coordinator, 2009-10: Susan Carlson

Faculty teaching seminars in 2009-10: Kathryn Ananda-Owens (Music); Eric Fure-Slocum (History); Karen Gervais (Philosophy); Robert McClure (Education); Diana Postlethwaite (English); John Welckle (Education); Jeanne Willcoxon (Theatre)

Faculty advisers of individual majors 2009-10: Carolyn Anderson (Sociology/Anthropology); Cindy Book (Exercise Science); David Booth (Religion); Doug Casson (Political Science); Christopher Chiappari (Sociology/Anthropology); David Emery (Economics); Eric Fure-Slocum (History); Elizabeth Galbraith (Religion); Gary Gisselman (Theatre); Steve Hahn (History); Judy Kutulas (History); Sian Muir (Management Studies); Diana Postlethwaite (English); Barbara Reed (Religion and Asian Studies); Marc Robinson (Russian); Bill Sonnega (Theatre and Media Studies); Mary Trull (English); Charles Umbanhowar, Jr. (Environmental Studies); Karen Peterson Wilson (Theatre)

In the Center for Integrative Studies (CIS), “integrative studies” refers to learning that intentionally combines diverse methods, experiences, learning styles, subject matters, and on- or off-campus resources. The college has a long-standing commitment to integrative studies, evident in its many successful interdisciplinary majors and concentrations, in the 30-year history of the St. Olaf Paracollege, and in the faculty’s ability to combine diverse approaches to course subjects. The CIS's principal activity is to support students who plan and carry out individual, integrative majors and help students to identify and pursue opportunities for integrative learning on and off campus. In all these activities, the CIS's goal is to enhance the coherence of students’ academic careers by encouraging them to make meaningful connections among the many parts of their educational experience and by helping them build bridges between the college and other communities. The CIS also offers a small curriculum of topical seminars that exemplify integrative learning.



The CIS is the academic home for students pursuing self-designed, integrative majors. Students propose a sequence of courses, seminars, independent studies, or experiential learning as the means of pursuing an individual major. Proposals must include (1) a description of the proposed subject matter; (2) a list of 10 or more proposed courses and other learning experiences and an explanation of how each contributes to the major; (3) an initial proposal for a two-semester senior integrative project; and (4) a summary of the student’s preparation to carry out the proposed major. Each proposal must have the support of a faculty academic advisor. The coherence, depth, and feasibility of each proposal are evaluated and approved by a faculty review committee convened by the CIS. At the end of the senior year, the student’s work in the major is presented to a faculty certification committee for review. Proposals for individual majors may be submitted any time during the sophomore year and the first part of the junior year. Recent individual majors include: Native American Studies; Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Cinema and Social Thought; Globalization and Finance; Psycholinguistics; Social Justice Studies; Archaeology; Evolution of Law; Sustainable International Development; Directing for Stage and Screen; Children and the Arts in Society; Sequential Art: Graphic and Literary Narrative; Public Health: Policy and Reform; Western European Architecture and Design.

The Web Portfolio

Students with individual majors create and maintain a web portfolio. A web portfolio preserves important learning experiences and academic work. Its web-based structure allows students to make explicit links within their own work and to the work of other students or other sites of public discussion. The web portfolio is presented to the faculty certification committee with the senior project at the end of the major.

For specific requirements for the individual major or for information about other activities of the Center for Integrative Studies, please contact the director or program coordinator.




Faculty teaching in the CIS offer integrative seminars on selected topics, open to students in the sophomore year or later. These seminars model the integration of tools and resources from various disciplines in new approaches to their subjects. CIS seminars are normally repeated over two successive years and then retired, but later may find a “home” in another department or program.

Seminars Offered in 2009-10:

202 Critical Issues in Human-Environment Interaction

This seminar uses global environmental issues to explore the interrrelationships between humans and the environment, and develop alternatives for social-political action. Students examine paradigms or ways of organizing environmental issues and their impact on humans; evaluate possible applications of competing paradigms; generate a model for organizing thoughts on a specific environmental issue; and present the model using qualitative and quantitative evidence to illustrate and support this personal paradigmatic response. Possible topics include global warming, water rights, pollution, and disaster vulnerability.

204 Censors and Degenerates: Ethical Issues in the Visual and Performing Arts

This seminar considers artistic censorship in the 20th and 21st centuries in light of the major moral theories, principles, and approaches in Western ethics. Student explore the recent history of censorship in the arts, and examine art through the lens of ethics, considering the nature of art and artistic power. Why is art censored? Who censors? Is there an ethics of art? An ethics of censorship? Is there an ethical response to censorship? To art?

204 Public Health Ethics and Pandemic

This seminar seeks an ethical framework for developing health policies with significant population and individual impacts. Which perspective should be taken - that of the population or the individual? When and how might the interests of each balance, trump, or constrain the interests of the other? Students explore substantive and procedural approaches to "fairness" when population interests compete with or compromise individuals' pursuit of the good as they see it, and consider the challenges of a severe, 1918-type influenza pandemic.

216 Ideals to Action: Cultivating Social Change

This seminar explores social change both academically and practically. Through historical analysis, case studies, ethical reflection, and practical applications, students investigate local and global social programs contextually and assess a range of approaches to effect change, including community organizing, service projects, public policy, entrepreneurial ventures, and social movements. The seminar integrates a hands-on approach, encouraging students to hone the analytical tools and practical skills needed to cultivate change and engage fully as citizens.

217 Theatre and Science

This seminar explores how the sciences have changed our perception and construction of the world - and humans within the world - and how theatre and theatrical performance both engage in and challenge those perceptions and constructions. Students will examine how plays, performance, and the sciences interact and emerge in Western culture; how theatre, and a critical engagement with text and performance, participate in the methodology of science; and how "science" is performed on stage.


Students with individual majors register for their senior integrative projects in each semester of the senior year. The first semester, generally used for research and other preparation in consultation with the student's advisor, receives a P/N evaluation; the second semester, and final presentation of the project receives a grade. A brief description of the student's major and senior project appears on the official transcript.

391 Senior Project I

392 Senior Project II