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.  The International and Off-Campus Studies website offers program details, eligibility requirements, costs, and application processes and timelines.

The Global Semester (Fall Semester)

Note: Global Semester is suspended for 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Global Semester is a fall-semester academic program which gives students insight into sites around the world. Through the combination of coursework in a variety of disciplines and cultural learning opportunities, 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 2020 itinerary takes the group around the world with visits to Tunisia, Tanzania, India, China, and Argentina. The academic program focuses on three main sites: Tanzania, China, and Argentina. The group spends about a month in each country, with shorter stays in the other sites. These countries figure prominently in the political and cultural life of East Africa, East Asia, and South America. This program is highly competitive for admission.

Courses Offered in 2020:

Political Science 247: Populism, Democracy, and Authoritarianism in a Global Context
This course introduces students to debates over populism as a framework for exploring how the popular will is expressed, channelled, and constrained in diverse political contexts. Students compare how established state institutions represent the varied interests and identities of populations and how populist movements challenge these institutions. By examining both theory and practice in a global context, students learn to distinguish between populisms that sustain democratic government and those that nurture authoritarian rule. Counts toward political science major. GE: Multicultural Studies Global -AND- Oral Communications (MCG and ORC). 

Interdisciplinary 252: Public Health in Social and Cultural Contexts in Tanzania
The course introduces students to the health care management systems in the developing world. The course forms a strong foundation for students to seek a just approach to health care systems globally following exploration of issues and discrepancies related to the delivery of public health services in Tanzania. The course offers theoretical introductions to different subjects and practical field visits to various organizations/health care facilities. GE: Studies in Natural Science (IST)
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 political science and Asian studies majors and Asian studies and China studies concentrations.  GE:  Studies in Human Behavior and Society -AND- Multicultural Studies Global (HBS and MCG).
Interdisciplinary 246: Arts in Argentina: Transition and Transformation
This course examines historical and current social and political aspects of Argentina through the lens of the arts. Visual arts, literature, music, and public memorials express both political disputes and cultural clashes. The course is organized in four units that provide a chronological study of Argentinian history and how it is perceived through the arts, literature and music. In addition to assigned readings, faculty and students utilize other relevant materials that include documentaries, films, and field trips to historical and cultural places and museums and art galleries.
GE:  Artistic and Literary Studies (ALS-A).


Environmental Science in Australia and New Zealand (Spring Semester)

Note: Normally offered every other year. Offered next in Spring 2022.

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. This program is highly competitive for admission.

Courses Offered in 2022:

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.