Fall Semester Courses


This icon indicates that a course is green focused.
Other courses in the listing are green related,
meaning that topics in this course touch on areas
and/or skills related to environmental issues or sustainability.

American Studies (1)

AMST 100 Perspectives on American Culture

This analysis of modern American society introduces theories and methods of culture studies, beginning with anthropological definitions of culture and including perspectives of sociology, political science, history, art history, and English. Students examine the moral ecology of everyday life in America, looking at the cultural meanings of work, clothes, food, family, gender, buildings, bodies, television, advertising, and education.

Asian Studies (2)

ASIAN 210: Asian Conversations I

How do pilgrims, travelers and migrants make sense of their journeys in Asia? Students explore maps, histories, tales, and guides that define Asia today and in years past, including several classic Asian texts; study how cultural, linguistic, economic, religious, social, and political connections and divisions create and sustain communities in Asia; and plan related projects for their Interim course. Students will discuss environmentalissues in the United States and the ways in which they compare to those in China and Japan and other parts of Asia.Prerequisite: Chinese 112 or Japanese 112 or permission of instructor. Must be accepted into Asian Conversations program to register.

ASIAN 397: Human Rights/Asian Context

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that “the inherent dignity and … the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family [are] the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Who speaks to human rights in East Asia? What ethical perspectives are voiced? Case studies presented through memoirs, films, reports, and multidisciplinary analyses provide the material for exploring diverse normative claims about individual rights in East Asia. The course features a sustainability-related module on e-waste.
Biology (5)

greenlightBIO 150 Evolutionary Foundations in Biodiversity

This course is the gateway for the biology major, guiding students as they develop the context, skills, and modern framework on which to continue their study of biology. Students explore the history, evolution, and diversity of life in the context of genetics and comparative genomics. The laboratory emphasizes question-asking, problem-solving, and exploring biodiversity, and students have multiple opportunities to practice and communicate their science. Students attend lectures plus one 3-hour laboratory/discussion per week.

BIO 227 Cell Biology

This course provides a comprehensive overview of cellular structure and function including cellular compartments, macromolecular structures, and life processes such as energy and material flux, cell division, and control mechanisms. Students learn current and/or historical evidence and methodology (e.g., microscopy, isolation procedures, and probes). Laboratory experiences provide opportunities for qualitative and quantitative observations of cellular structure and function. Students place their work in the context of current research through examination of relevant literature and formal presentations. 

greenlightTransparentBIO 261 Ecological Principles

Ecology focuses on the study of the interrelationships that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms. This core course examines organism-environment interactions and the study of populations, communities and ecosystems. Consideration is given to use of ecological studies in ecosystem management. Students attend lectures plus one three-hour laboratory per week.

BIO 371 Field Ecology

This course focuses on learning modern field and laboratory methods to test ecological hypotheses. Students work on group and individual projects to collect and analyze data and give oral and written presentations on projects. Class periods focus on discussion of primary literature and project results. Class trips include visits to local natural areas. Students focus on how to sustain biodiversity and reduce human-induced environmental changes; from climate change, to habitat destruction, to changes in biogeochemical cycling.

BIO 247 Animal Physiology
How do animals do what they need to do to survive in all sorts of environments? Why are others able to exist in only very particular conditions? These are the sorts of questions students explore as they navigate the basic systems that provide circulation, ventilation, movement, digestion, and waste removal. Students look at how these processes are coordinated by the nervous and endocrine systems and how they vary across the animal kingdom to help organisms survive in dry, hot deserts, in dark, deep oceans, and places in between. Animal Physiology studies how animals evolve to cope with environmental conditions. Climate change and its impacts on the limits of plant and animal life are a further topic of conversation.
Chemistry (2)

CHEM 253 Synthesis Lab I

This laboratory course introduces students to the synthesis and characterization of organic, organometallic and inorganic compounds and serves as a general introduction to green chemistry. Students purify the materials they produce by techniques such as chromatography and characterize them using optical rotation measurements, infrared spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

CHEM 247 Organic Chemistry I

Organic chemistry is the study of compounds containing carbon, emphasizing the structures and mechanisms of reaction of these molecules. This course focuses on structure, nomenclature, and reactions of aliphatic and alicyclic compounds, including aspects of stereochemistry and spectroscopic identification of these compounds.
Economics (1)

greenlightTransparentECON 242 Environmental Economics

The powerful insights of microeconomic analysis inform this consideration of environmental policy and regulation. Coursework emphasizes issues germane to setting and attaining specific environmental objectives – how much pollution to allow, how much to encourage preservation, how much cutting to permit. By considering whether and how to assign monetary values to goods like species diversity and climactic stability, students gain practical experience applying benefit-cost analysis to environmental decisions.
Environmental Studies (5)

greenlightTransparentENVST 381 Contested Spaces

(ARTS/HUMANITIES)- Mark Allister An environmental matter. An impasse. One side wants conservation of habitat and sustainable practices. The other side frames the situation through the lens of jobs and autonomy from government regulation . Why do so many sites and practices become environmentally contested spaces? How do we begin to resolve such impasses? Most work in environmental studies — and nearly all that is natural science and social science based — focuses on exterior or objective perspectives, examining structures such as individual subjects or ecosystems or political and economic systems. This seminar will consider contested spaces and the values that underlie arguments about such spaces by also focusing on interior perspectives, the role of emotion, beauty, ideas about the self, cultural mores, and so for th. Students aim to understand an “integral ecology” that might reveal all that is at stake in a contested environmental space.

ENVST 255 Remote Sensing & GIS

Remote sensing and GIS are increasingly used to address basic and applied questions in the environmental sciences and a host of other disciplines. Students survey available remote sensing image types and learn to process (ground-truthing, GPS, scanning, digitizing) and interpret remotely sensed images. They also learn theory and practice of geographic information systems (basic cartography and spatial statistics).

greenlightTransparentENVST 232 Environmental Policy/Regulation

This course analyzes environmental regulation in the United States with respect to its historical evolution, its ability to achieve environmental targets, its efficiency or cost-effectiveness, its distributional impact on jobs, people, and industries across the country, and its international ramifications. Class meetings include open discussions with individuals from agencies charged with developing and enforcing environmental regulation.

greenlightTransparentENVST 202 Culture of Nature

This American environmental history course explores the social construction of nature in the 20th century, looking at the roots (both natural and cultural) of contemporary environmental issues. To figure out what nature means to us now, students study the history of stuff, the culture of grasslands and lawns, the changing character of the city and the country, the nature of the suburbs, the conservation and preservation movements, different energy ecologies, the nature of TV, the contemporary environmental movement, and alternative ecological practices. They also use the St. Olaf campus as a case study of environmental design.

greenlightTransparentES/PS 201 Topics in Global Environmental Politics

Population growth, industrialization, and the consumption of fossil fuels have increased global environmental problems. The course examines the ways in which nation-states and/or international institutions have addressed these environmental concerns. Depending on the instructor, the focus of the course is either the environmental problems of a particular area (e.g., Latin America, Russia or Asia) or a broader global arena (e.g., international institutions and the environment).

greenlightTransparentENVST 137 Introduction to Environmental Studies

Introduction to Environmental Studies is a sustainability-focused course that explores a range of environmental issues in an attempt to uncover social, economic, and ecological causes, consequences, and solutions.


Exercize Science- Activity (2)

ESAC 125 Canoeing

This course offers instruction in and practice of the basic techniques of canoeing and safety in handling the canoe.

ESAC 106 Rock Climbing

Students learn basic rock climbing skills, techniques, and safety procedures.

German (2)

GERM 112: Beginning German II

Students continue to develop basic language skills with emphasis on expanding vocabulary and on writing assignments that aid in the practical application of grammatical concepts. Communicating in German about familiar personal topics, students acquire vocabulary about sports, food, holidays, school, and life in German speaking cultures. German 112 features a unit on the environment (die Umwelt,) which focuses on sustainable living in Germany.

GERM 111B: Beginning German

Students begin to learn German through listening, speaking, reading, and writing about situations familiar to them including their personal biographies, families, daily life, studies, travels, and hobbies. Regular writing assignments are designed to help students learn vocabulary, check spelling, and to form thoughts with German sentence structure. Regular speaking activities aid in acquiring good pronunciation and listening skills. German 111B features two units on the environment (die Umwelt,) with a focus on sustainable living in Germany.

History (1)

greenlightTransparentHIST 245 Environmental History of Latin America

This course examines the environmental history of Latin America from ancient times to the present. Through readings and discussion, students explore topics such as pre-conquest indigenous agriculture, the environmental consequences of European colonization, Latin American understandings of nature, the Green Revolution, deforestation, questions of international environmental justice, and the growing links between the region’s indigenous peoples and international environmental organizations.

Math (2)

MATH 230 Differential Equations

This course introduces differential equations and analytical, numerical, and graphical techniques for the analysis of their solutions. First- and second-order differential equations and linear systems are studied. Applications are selected from areas such as biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, and physics. Laplace transforms or nonlinear systems may be covered as time permits. Students use computers extensively to calculate and visualize results. Differential Equations addresses problems and applications concerning modeling of populations and resource harvesting.

MATH 126 Calculus II

This course covers methods and applications of integration, geometric and Taylor series, and introduces partial derivatives and double integrals. Calculus II addresses problems and applications concerning modeling of populations and resource harvesting.


Nursing (1)

NURS 388 Community Health

This course emphasizes the health of communities and populations. Topics include population-based health issues such as environmental health, epidemiology and communicable diseases. Students assess and screen individuals and families within communities, address identified needs and educate populations across the lifespan, collaborate with other health care professionals, make referrals, and participate in health promotion clinics. Clinical experiences occur in rural public health agencies and community-based programs.
Off-Campus (6)

OFFC 388D US: Washington Institute

The Institute for Experiential Learning (IEL), founded in 1990, provides experiential education programs and academic-based internships in Washington, DC. Designed for participants with interests in all fields of study, the program consists of two coordinated seminars and a four-day-per-week internship in the executive and legislative branches of government embassies or various organizations related to business, law and social development. Four St. Olaf course credits are awarded for the 15 semester hours.


The Scandinavian Urban Studies Term (SUST) investigates dramatic changes in Northern Europe by critically analyzing the development of the Norwegian welfare state through a wide range of topics such as globalization theories, nation-building and national identity, governance and political party systems, European integration, racial thinking, histories of racialization, international aid politics, sexuality, and environmentalism. The topical organization of the program is cumulative and deliberately contradictory, illuminating the international relevance of the Scandinavian case study.

OFFC 287 Norway: SUST Year HECUA

The Scandinavian Urban Studies Term (SUST) investigates dramatic changes in Northern Europe by critically analyzing the development of the Norwegian welfare state through a wide range of topics such as globalization theories, nation-building and national identity, governance and political party systems, European integration, racial thinking, histories of racialization, international aid politics, sexuality, and environmentalism. The topical organization of the program is cumulative and deliberately contradictory, illuminating the international relevance of the Scandinavian case study.

OFFC 244A US: Oregon Extension I

The Oregon Extension is a community of scholars and students located in an old logging camp in southern Oregon, established in 1975. Every fall, this community welcomes a four-month program of learning and study. The study is accomplished in intensive small-group and individual tutorial sessions, tailored to the students’ interests and needs. The curriculum is structured around four broad themes: The Contemporary World, Social Analysis and Theory, Human Stories and Living Faith. Each theme is addressed in a three-and-a-half week segment; each segment is divided in half. During the first half of a segment, students work in a group with a shared core of readings and discussions. In the second half of each segment, the students work individually with a professor in the area of their own interest, growing out of the previous readings and discussion. Each segment ends with two days of student presentations.

OFFC 205A Biology in South India

India is a vast country with tremendous opportunities for studying ecology and ways in which humans practice health care and interact with the environment. This fall semester program in India offers up to 10 biology and environmental studies students a chance to work on two independent research projects chosen among several sites in southern India. Possible topics will be in the areas of rural health care, leprosy, TB, vector-borne diseases, molecular biology, agriculture, elephant/wildlife ecology, mountain ecology, medicinal plants, and sustainable development. The program starts with a four-week study and orientation session in Chennai and a rural setting that exposes students to India and Indian life. These class sessions and field trips introduce India’s history, philosophy, religion, music, customs and current politics, as well as the practical matters of getting around and getting along in India. The program fulfills two biology electives, MCS-G and WRI requirements. A fourth independent study course is possible with permission of the Program Adviser and the appropriate department.


This program offers students the opportunity to learn first-hand about social problems in Ecuadorian society and to explore ways in which various community groups attempt to address them. Students immerse themselves in the daily life of Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, by combining an internship designed to reflect their personal interests and learning goals with a seminar, an independent project and a home stay. For the internship, students may choose to be placed with an organization working on human rights, health needs, services for children, development of youth, or women’s, environmental or other issues. In the seminar, they study and contrast theories of social change and models of community participation, organization and development. In the independent study, they carry out field research on a topic of their choice related to those explored in the seminar. Through the home stay they gain insights into family life. All lectures are in Spanish with discussions in Spanish and English; most reading is done in Spanish. CILA provides an integrated learning experience to students of all majors who wish to gain practical experience in Latin American communities, which are struggling to cope with social change.
Religion (2)

REL 278 Christian Ethics and Ecological Justice

Within the contemporary context, humanity’s place within Earth’s ecological system is fraught with ethical challenges. This course examines the Christian ethical tradition as a means to identify ethical resources for addressing ecological problems as well as reflect on how nature itself challenges ethical reflection. Students will investigate particular moral issues relating to sustainability and ecological concerns. The course will cover why and how God calls Christians to tend and sustain creation.


REL 121A A “Green” Bible? Earth, Its Creatures, and Ecological Imagination

Adam and Eve frolic through a garden of living things, and Noah navigates a floating zoo. Jonah gets stuck in the belly of a big fish, and Job faces the unseemly monstrosities of Behemoth and Leviathan. Strange lambs, lions, beasts, dogs, doves, donkeys, and other creatures populate biblical texts, often unnoticed. With these nonhuman creatures in mind, this section will focus on ‘ecotheological’ and ‘ecocritical’ readings of creation in biblical narratives. We’ll examine the bible’s relationship to environmentalism and critical animal studies—paying particular attention to how these texts portray what it means to be a “human” or “nonhuman” creature. We’ll look at the vital roles nonhuman creatures play in these stories, and we’ll ask what kinds of perspectives these creatures may give on the earth and contemporary environmental issues.


Sociology/Anthropology (1)

greenlightTransparentSOAN 297 Environmental Anthropology

This course introduces some of the main theoretical approaches and some practical applications of environmental anthropology. Students examine cultural and social aspects of the human-environment interface, such as different belief and value systems relating to the environment, resource conflict and management, conservation and biodiversity, agriculture and food security, and the environmental justice movement. The course also addresses methods and problems of applying research in environmental anthropology to related development, conservation, and human rights issues.
Writing (4)

greenlightTransparentWRIT 111: Food Politics

Why do you eat what you eat? What does this say about you and your relationship to people, the environment, animals, and politics? Finally, how is the act of eating a political action, akin to public discourse? The theme of this writing course will explore various philosophies of food consumption and distribution, asking and debating questions about why certain communities experience obesity and abundance while others suffer from starvation and lack. We will investigate farming and agribusiness, philosophies of food consumption such as vegetarianism and the slow foods movement, and personal food and cooking habits. As a class, we will frame our discussions and writings around contemporary readings, advertisements, documentaries, film representations, fictional texts, recipes and cookbooks, and academic texts. As part of this exploration into how food and democracy go hand in hand, you will be expected to write a wide variety of genres including a food narrative, controversy analysis, researched argument, public argument, and manifesto.


French writer Brillat-Savarin declares in The Physiology of Taste of 1848,“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” American writer Mark Kurlansky insists in his 2002 Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from around the World and throughout History, “Food is about agriculture, about ecology, about man’s relationship with nature, about the climate, about nation-building, cultural struggles, friends and enemies, alliances, wars, religion. It is about memory and tradition and, at times, even about sex.” Cooking and eating as a topic of serious intellectual inquiry as well as one of enormous import in popular culture are the focus of this writing seminar. Through a number of formal and informal writing assignments, students will explore the role of food in a variety of contexts such as literature, art, history, film, journalism, and television. Texts and films may include Michael Pollan’s recent work of nonfiction Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Emile Zola’s nineteenth-century novel, The Belly of Paris, Nora Ephron’s hit movie Julie and Julia, and Gabriel Axel’s 1987 Danish movie, Babette’s Feast

greenlightTransparentWRI 111B: Telling Stories About Climate Change

The most recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t pull any punches. The globe continues to warm, ice continues to melt at an alarming pace, and the seas continue to rise. Climate change is already happening. Yet, according to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, only 40% of Americans cited climate change as a major threat. So what gives? Why aren’t people getting the message? Are we delivering it wrong? Do we need more stories and better storytellers? This writing seminar will examine various approaches to the subject, with a particular focus on how a compelling story might be told, especially when conveying scientific data and abstract ideas. What makes a story compelling? Memorable? Inspiring? We’ll frame our discussion and writings around a variety of media (novels, graphic novels, essays, poetry, and film).In class, students do some storytelling on their own, write responses to assigned reading or films, work in small writing groups to give and receive feedback, and write daily exercises that take up a certain element covered in our writing handbook. Additional writing assignments will include a personal essay, an analysis essay, a research essay, short blog entries, and more.

WRI 111J: Now or Never

Can we avert catastrophic consequences of the impact of human activity on the atmosphere, or is it already too late? What is the evidence for the “greenhouse effect,” the “ozone hole,” and “climate change”? This seminar will examine data about our planet’s atmosphere from ancient times to the present and consider the impact of both human activities and natural phenomena. We will see how early scientists came to view the concept of gases, to identify the individual components of air, and to understand gases’ properties, including why some can act as greenhouse gases but others cannot. With this background, we will consider scenarios for the future and the types of decisions, and potential consequences, that face present and future generations. Writing assignments will include historical sketches of key figures in the study of the atmosphere, “biographies” of greenhouse gases, analyses of climate data and historical records of atmospheric composition, science fiction-type stories on what life might be like in the future, and a persuasive article making policy recommendations.