Faculty-Led Semester Programs

St. Olaf faculty members organize and lead semester-long programs.  The Global Semester is offered annually during fall semester and Environmental Science in Australia and New Zealand is offered every other year during the spring semester.  See International and Off-Campus Studies website for course details and general education requirements that the courses fulfill.

The Global Semester (Fall Semester)

The Global Semester is a fall-semester academic program which gives students insight into cultures around the world. Through the combination of careful course structuring and direct cultural exposure, the semester provides a remarkable experience of academic merit and personal development.  The intercultural understanding and global perspective provided by the program are practical and professional skills that participants will use throughout their lives.
 
The itinerary takes the group around the world with visits to Italy, Israel and Palestine, Egypt, India, Thailand,  and China. The academic program focuses on three main sites: Egypt, India, and China. The group spends about a month in each country. These countries figure prominently in the political and cultural life of the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. To gain understanding of their national pulse by living among their aspiring young people is in itself a worthwhile reason for participation. However, a direct academic involvement through lectures, discussion, readings, and exams deepens each student’s understanding of prevailing issues and provides a learning experience readily evaluated against St. Olaf’s standards of academic measurement.

Field Supervisor’s Course
Religion 270 Christology in Global Dialogue
This course explores who Jesus is for the world today. Employing comparative theology and postcolonial theory, students will examine the ways in which dialogue with religions and cultures across the globe enrich and enliven Christian theology. In each location of study in the Global Semester the course highlights the various critical responses and local alternatives being developed to replace colonial Christologies, in ways that foster liberation and mutual respect (rather than subjugation and condemnation). Counts toward major.  
 
History GL 257 Themes in Ancient Graeco-Roman and Islamic-Egyptian History
Lectures, discussions, and extensive field trips provide understanding of significant developments and themes in Egypt’s ancient and medieval past with emphasis on dynastic Coptic and Islamic periods. Field trips include a visit to Luxor. Counts toward major. 
 
Religion GL 251 Religions of India
The several religious traditions of India are introduced through lectures, discussions, and excursions. Religious scholars from India provide the background for an understanding of the assumptions, views, nature, traditions and contemporary practices of the dominant religious expressions in India. Particular attention is given to Hinduism and to Indian responses to religious pluralism.  Counts toward major.
 
Political Science GL 248 China’s Political Economy
China has become one of the key political forces in current global affairs. In this course, students explore the forces and domains (history, economics, demographics, modernization, and industrialization) to learn how these components shape China’s political landscape. They study both internal factors such as ethnic tensions and income disparity, as well as external factors including foreign policy, human rights, and trade. Counts toward major: Political Science, Economics, and Asian Studies. Counts toward concentration:  Asian studies and China studies.

Environmental Science in Australia and New Zealand (Spring Semester)

Note: Normally offered every other year. Offered next in Spring 2018.

The flora, fauna, ecological habitats, human history, and geology of Australia and New Zealand offer opportunities for study that are unique for their diversity and time horizons. The landscapes range from white sandy beaches to dry bush inland to broadleaf, temperate, and tropical rainforests. The diversity of mammalian fauna, over 600 species of eucalyptus, and the Great Barrier Reef provide examples of how biological organisms have adapted to the isolation of the Australian continent and the islands of New Zealand.

 
The human history is no less fascinating.  Aboriginal Australians represent the oldest continuous culture in the world today, and the Maori exemplify Polynesian expansion and settlement more than 500 years prior to Europeans. Students will learn how people’s adaptation to environmental conditions shows remarkable innovation, as well as how the recent European invasion significantly altered Indigenous lifestyle and affected many environmental parameters.
 
In addition to increasing our understanding of human behavior across cultures, we will explore how various animals and humans navigate their environment – an ability fundamental to species survival - as we navigate our own way around Australia and New Zealand.  A combination of lectures, extensive field experiences, and brief research projects enable students to learn about and appreciate this fascinating area of the world. All courses are taken concurrently and will be highly integrated to provide a strong interdisciplinary focus. Students considering this program should be aware that it has a demanding physical schedule and moves frequently to new locations. 

Biology 226: Terrestrial Ecology
This course focuses on New Zealand and Australian flora and fauna as influenced by landscape and climate (past and present). The impact of past and present human activity will be examined from an ecological perspective. Lectures are supplemented by extensive field trips and short term field research projects.  Counts toward biology major (biology majors see note below for information on core requirements), and environmental studies major and concentration (natural science or elective). 
 
Biology 224: Marine Biology
Covers abiotic as well as biotic factors and their relationships. Includes an examination of effects of geological and climatic influences. The environmental impact of human activity will be examined. Lectures supplemented by field trips from the cold waters of New Zealand and Southern Australia to the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.  Counts toward biology major, (biology majors, see note below for information on core requirements) and the environmental studies major and concentration (natural science or elective).
 
Sociology/Anthropology 222: Cultural Anthropology
An introduction to the native Maori culture of New Zealand and aboriginal culture of Australia, their adaptations and role in the environment. Examines the European impact on the indigenous peoples and on the environment since settlement. Lectures supplemented by field trips and participatory experiences.  Counts toward environmental studies major and concentration (social science or elective).  
 
Political Science 221: Environmental Policy
Examination of the present political structure and organization of New Zealand and Australian governments and political parties. Special emphasis on policies concerning the environment and indigenous peoples. Lectures supplemented by field trips including visits to state or national parliament.   Counts toward environmental studies major and concentration (social science or elective). 

Special Note for Biology Majors:
Biology majors may choose to fulfill EITHER the multicellular organism core course OR the ecology core course of the major (not both). The other biology course will count as an elective in the major.