Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Center for Integrative Studies

Director, 2010-11: Steve McKelvey (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science), operations research, wildlife modeling

Program Coordinator, 2010-11: Susan Carlson

Faculty teaching seminars in 2010-11: Jason Engbrecht (Physics) positron physics; Eric Fure-Slocum (History) American urban, labor, and reform history; Karen Gervais (Philosophy) biomedical ethics, ethics and health policy, philosophy of law, social and political philosophy, feminist philosophy; Solveig Zempel (Norwegian), Norwegian literature and language

Faculty advisers of individual majors 2010-11 include: Guido Alvarez (Art and Art History); Doug Beussman (Chemistry); Maggie Broner (Spanish); Laurel Carrington (History); Doug Casson (Political Science); Chris Chapp (Political Science); Christopher Chiappari (Sociology/Anthropology); Kevin Crisp (Biology and Neuroscience); Jenny Dunning (English); Todd Edwards (Theatre); Jon Giannini (Biology); Gary Gisselman (Theatre); Chuck Huff (Psychology and Computer Science); Tony Lott (Political Science and Environmental Studies); Gary Muir (Psychology and Neuroscience); Sian Muir (Management Studies); Sherry Saterstrom (Dance); Bill Sonnega (Theatre and Media Studies)

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: Intercultural Medical Practice; The Psychology of Social Change; Writing for Theatre and Film; God and the Infinite; Social Ecology; Globalization and Finance; International Development (Environmental Sustainability in a Global Economy); Graphic and Software Design; Criminalistics; Ecology of Wellness; Political Communication; Performance Management; Multilingualism and Multiculturalism.

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.


Information about the criteria and application process for awarding distinction in the individual major is available on the CIS web site.



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 2010-11

204: Global Health Ethics

This seminar seeks a culturally respectful ethical framework for developing health policies for our increasingly interdependent world,
a world of widening disparities in wealth and health. In relation to issues of health, how might relationships between individuals,
institutions, and nations be structured to reduce injustice and improve prospects for well-being, peace, and security? How might
different cultural, political, and industrial conditions around the world affect our western conception of bioethics?

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.

218 Chronicles of the American Immigrant Experience

In this seminar, students will consider how immigrants work through their national, ethnic, or racial heritage to contribute to the creative and spiritual life of their new nation, and ways in which this collection of voices creates harmony and/or dissonance. We will read novels, short stories, and poems, and study private writings (letters and diaries), films, artworks, and other artifacts, in the context of the history of American immigration and of issues facing current immigrant groups.

219 Collaborative Design

Students in this seminar will use design process as a technique to creatively and efficiently tackle large projects in a group setting. We will focus on the construction of a working Rube Goldberg Machine, a whimsical and creative yet complicated and demanding task, using the design process. Students will examine formal techniques for identifying goals, brainstorming ideas, establishing timelines,
prototyping ideas, and creating formal presentations. Hands-on skills will also be taught and utilized throughout the construction process.
A background in science is not necessary; it is in fact one goal of this seminar to bring together science and non-science majors in
creative collaboration.


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