Integrative Studies

Tomson 283
507-786-6707

wp.stolaf.edu/cis

The Center for Integrative Studies (CIS) works with students who design and carry out Individual Majors that intentionally integrate diverse methods, experiences, learning styles, subjects, and on- or off-campus resources. The goal of the CIS is to enhance the coherence of students’ educational experience by encouraging them to make meaningful connections between their academic and co-curricular learning and helping them to build bridges between the college and other communities.

The Center for Integrative Studies also administers the Magnus the Good Collaborative Fellowships, an opportunity for student-faculty collaboration in research and inquiry. More information on the program, and on past projects, is available at https://wp.stolaf.edu/cis/magnus-the-good-award/.

The Individual Major

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 area or topic of study. 
  2. A list of 11-12 courses and other learning experiences, with an explanation of how each contributes to the major. 
  3. A set of questions that will guide studies in the major, including broader questions in the disciplines supporting the major and specific questions related to narrower topics of the major.
  4. Initial plans for 2-3 potential senior integrative projects 
  5. A summary of the student’s preparation to carry out the proposed major, and a justification of the major as a coherent, integrative  academic plan. 

Each proposal must have the support of a faculty academic advisor. The coherence, depth, and feasibility of each proposal are evaluated in a Final Review Consultation (FRC) convened by the CIS, after which the proposal is forwarded to a faculty committee that gives final approval or returns the proposal for further revision. At the end of the senior year, the student’s work in the major is presented to a CIS 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: Archaeology: Culture and Methodology; Nonprofit Mission and Management; Technology Innovation and Civic Development; Disability Studies; International Development; Criminalistics; African Identities in Media and Development; Cognitive Neuroscience: Cells to Systems; Photographic Theory; Global Health Diplomacy; Digital Art and Animation; Studies in Pre-Architecture and Sustainability; Performance Technology and Design; Film Analysis and Criticism; International Human Rights; Sports and Activities Administration; Media and Public Relations: Marketing to Multiple Audiences; English Language Learners in the Elementary Classroom; Politics, Economics and Philosophy.

The Web Portfolio

Students with individual majors create and maintain a public web portfolio that demonstrates the integration and coherence of the major.  Its web-based structure allows students to make explicit links among the examples of their own work as well as to outside sites of public discussion related to the topic of the major.  The portfolio also allows students to track and reflect on their intellectual development as they complete their studies.  The web portfolio is presented to the faculty certification committee with the list of completed courses and integrative 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 assistant director.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

Distinction

The Center for Integrative Studies does not award distinction in the individual major.

All individual majors are eligible for the Ken Bonde Memorial Award. Students are nominated by their faculty advisors in the CIS; awards are determined by a committee chaired by the Director. More information about the award is available on the CIS website.

Integrative Senior Project

All senior integrative projects include work during both semesters of the senior year. Students determine the topic and scope of their project in consultation with their advisor at the beginning of the fall semester. Senior project plans describe the anticipated final product and the basis for its evaluation, as well as a research plan to support or contextualize the project. Whether the final product is a traditional research paper, a performance, a portfolio of essays, or a panel presentation, it must have a clear grounding in academic research.

For the fall semester students choose a level III course or other experience closely related to the topics and activities of the major and senior project, or, in consultation with their faculty advisor, may enroll in IS 391 Senior Project I, an independent course graded on a P/N basis. Enrollment in IS 391 is by permission of the CIS. During the spring semester, all students must enroll in IS 392 Senior Project II, a graded course which comprises the completion and public presentation of the senior project. Enrollment in IS 392 is by permission of the CIS, upon evidence that the basic elements of the required web portfolio are in place. A brief description of the student's major and senior project appears on the official transcript.

Students may also register independent study (IS 298 Independent Study), independent research (IS 398 Independent Research), or internships (IS 294 Academic InternshipIS 394 Academic Internship) through the CIS, if the supervising faculty member advises that as the appropriate course designation.

IS 294: Academic Internship

IS 298: Independent Study

IS 391: Senior Project I

Students, in consultation with their CIS advisor, may register for this fall semester course, which is graded P/N. This optional course is generally used for research and other preparation for the work planned for the spring semester. Whether students are enrolled in IS 391 or another approved level III course or experience, senior project plans must be submitted to CIS at the end of September.
Prerequisite: permission of the CIS.

IS 392: Senior Project II

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 transcript.

IS 394: Academic Internship

IS 398: Independent Research

Director, 2020-2021

Karil J. Kucera

Professor of Art and Art History and Asian Studies; Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and General Studies

Asian art history; text/image; sacred sites

Douglas J. Casson

Associate Professor of Political Science

political philosophy; constitutional law

Sian E. Christie

Entrepreneur in Residence

marketing; entrepreneurship; strategy; arts management

Timothy R. Howe

Professor of History

ancient Greece and Rome; the Middle East; Alexander the Great; ancient archeology

Susan L. Huehn

Associate Professor of Practice in Nursing

behavioral health; maternal-child nursing; relationship-based care; interprofessional relationships; interprofessional simulation

Abdulai Iddrisu

Associate Professor of History

African history; Islam in Africa

Peder J. Jothen

Assistant Professor of Religion

religious ethics

Dale H. Kruse

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

voice; lyric theater

Jerry K. Lee

Financial Executive in Residence

finance; financial accounting; managerial accounting

Melissa A. Mendez

Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Work and Family Studies

Justin W. Merritt

Professor of Music

composition; theory; instrumentation; electronic music

John Saurer

Professor of Art and Art History

sculpture; drawing; printmaking; installation

Ryan R. Sheppard

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

family; gender; race/ethnicity; social movements; quantitative research

William Sonnega

Associate Professor of Theater

theater; media studies

Kristina E. Thalhammer

Professor of Political Science

comparative politics; Latin American politics; political tolerance; human rights

Anne Walter

Professor of Biology

comparative animal and cell physiology; membrane physiology and biophysics; comparative enzymology; applying biology in international settings