Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Center for Integrative Studies

Director, 2007-2008: Mary Titus (English)

Program Coordinator, 2007-08: Susan Carlson

Faculty advisers of individual majors 2005-2006: Karen Achberger (German); Wendell Arneson (Art and Art History); Doug Beussman (Chemistry); Sheri Breen (Political Science); Chris Chiappari (Sociology and Anthropology); Shelly Dickinson (Psychology); Rich DuRocher (English); Jim Farrell (History); Rita Glazebrook (Nursing); Gary Gisselman (Theatre); Jim Heynen (English); Carol Holly (English); Charles Huff (Psychology); Rebecca Judge (Economics); Julie Legler (Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics); Jim McKeel (Music); Donna McMillan (Psychology); Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb (Sociology and Anthropology); Meg Ojala (Art and Art History); Diana Postlethwaite (English); Ed Santurri (Religion); Judi Sateren (Nursing); Charles Taliaferro (Philosophy); Mary Trull (English); Tom Williamson (Sociology and Anthropology); 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’ 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 seminarrs that exemplify intergrative 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 adviser. 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: Public Health: Policy and Reform; Ethics and Journalism; Biostatistics: Population Modeling; International Sustainable Development; Film Theory and Application; Renaissance Studies; Psychology of Religious Pluralism; Western European Architecture and Design; The Writing of Social Change; Legacies of Empire: Unity and Division in Postcolonial Societies; and Philosophy in Creative Literature.

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 2005-06:

207 Ways of Knowing Ecology

While “ecology” in the strict sense refers to a specific field within biology, the word also refers broadly to the interactions of organisms with living and non-living components of their environments. This seminar considers ways of knowing and thinking about this interdependence, from scientific ways to philosophical, geographical, and personal. Through field experiments and biography, data collection and aesthetics, scientific analyses and history, students explore different methods of gathering and interpreting scientific information about the world. Topics include living in place, knowing a river, wind energy, and animal cloning.

211 American Musical Theater

This seminar explores the development of a uniquely American theatrical form from the 1850s to the present. While it cultivates understanding of the form of musical theater itself, it also uses musical theater as a lens through which to view developments in American culture, including the influence of the many cultures either coming to or brought to the United States. Students study recordings, films, and scores, as well as popular and scholarly research into musical theater. Students see and analyze performances, but this is not a performance course.

212 Sport and Religion: An Inquiry into American Cultural Values

Sport and religion are significant social institutions in American culture. Both command a wide following that is passionate in its devotion. Sport has been used to promote religion and also as a means of enhancing one’s faith. This relationship has evolved over time, through education, the military, churches, and team play at different levels. But is sport actually religious? In this seminar students investigate the connections between sport and religion, particularly in the U.S., and consider in what ways that relationship affects people’s behavior.

213 Representing and Responding to the Vietnam/American War

This seminar explores responses to and representations of the war in Vietnam from a variety of perspectives. Students read literature – fiction, poetry, autobiographies, drama – by both Vietnamese and American writers. They view and discuss depictions of the war in American films from 1965 to the present, look at protest writing and political journalism accompanying the war, and explore their place in American society, and learn about the popular music that helped articulate American responses to the war. They also examine photography and journalism from the war, consider philosophical issues related to the recording of suffering and violence, and explore the formal and political choices shaping war memorials.

Seminars Scheduled for 2006-07:

202 Sport in Society

Sports are more than exercise and entertainment – they can be understood as social phenomena, related to the social and cultural contexts in which we live. Sports provide stories and images used to explain and evaluate these contexts and proved a window into culture and society. This seminar considers ways in which sports may be understood as social constructs: Who plays sports, what happens to them, and why? Do money and power matter in sports? If so, how? How does “playing games” become formalized, institutionalized? What is the role of media in sports? Or religion? Or government? Students discuss and produce position papers on various issues relating to sports in society.

207 Ways of Knowing Ecology

See description above.

209 Who Owns the Arts? Sponsorship, Censorship and Artistic Freedom

What is the relationship of the arts to the rest of society? What art should be publicly funded, and who determines this? How does corporate or other sponsorship affect the production of art? What constitutes censorship? How are the arts supported in different countries? This seminar examines the intersection of ethics, money, community values, and the arts in today's society.

213 Representing and Responding to the Vietnam/American War

See description above.

214 The Art and Politics of the Book

This seminar considers the book as cultural artifact, exploring social, political, and aesthetic issues relating to book production since the Industrial Revolution. Students study texts whose making inspired public action or stirred controversy, including the biography and art of alphabet books, cartography, the graphic novel, literary 'zines, fine press books, and a selection of the following: Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine, BWHBC's Our Bodies, Ourselves, Allen Ginsberg's Howl, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Audrey Niffenegger's The Three Incestuous Sisters, Robert Sabuda's America the Beautiful, and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Guest artists and field trips supplement our study. Students work individually and collaboratively to produce artists/writers notebooks, to research and write a book's biography, to respond to a current issue involving books, to initiate “pass around” community journals, and to produce their own books.

Seminars Scheduled for 2007-08:

202 Sport in Society

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

214 The Art and Politics of the Book

215 Gender and Sexuality in the 20th Century


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 adviser, receives a P/N evaluation; the second semester, and final presentation of the project to the faculty certification committee, receives a grade. A brief description of the student's major and senior project appear on the official transcript.

391 Senior Project I

392 Senior Project II