Spring 2019 ACE Courses

The descriptions below highlight the academic civic engagement component of each class. Please check the Academic Catalog for complete course descriptions and prerequisites.

American Conversations

AMCON 111 Borders and Empires

Instructor: Marc David, Collin Wells

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The United States was founded by breaking away from an empire, yet has grown into an imperial power. This course explores territorial expansion, the development of a pluralistic American state with varied internal borders and cultural realms, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. Examining American history through lenses used by creative artists, historians and social scientists, students consider such topics as global trade, slavery, urbanization, and war.

ACE Component: Students will work with the Mapping Prejudice project, reading and interpreting historical documents that were used in the first half of the 20th century to segregate Minneapolis neighborhoods. The project is a digitally-based public history project that helps us to see and better understand the racial inequalities in housing that continue to have an effect on the city and its residents. Mapping Prejudice also is being used to inform public policy.


AMCON 202 Pursuits of Happiness, 1920-Present

Instructor: Joshua Anderson, L. DeAne Lagerquist

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Students in this course examine technology, the mass market and consumerism, and the increasingly complex relations between identity and material goods. They also explore the images, institutions, and stories of environmental, feminist, and Civil Rights activists in the context of Cold War America. Topics and texts range from Yosemite National Park and Japanese internment camps to Adrienne Rich’s poetry and prose, Freedom Summer, Las Vegas, and the Mall of America.

ACE Component: Students will work with the Mapping Prejudice project, reading and interpreting historical documents that were used in the first half of the 20th century to segregate Minneapolis neighborhoods. The project is a digitally-based public history project that helps us to see and better understand the racial inequalities in housing that continue to have an effect on the city and its residents. Mapping Prejudice also is being used to inform public policy.


Computer Science

CS 263 Ethical Issues in Software Design

Instructor: Charles Huff

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So you write cool applications and utilities and they they do cool things. Or you see a new use for a current application. Or you want to use or install the latest technology in an organization. How do you know the application will do what you think it will? And how do you know it will not do unfortunate things, like kill people, or accidentally start a nuclear war, or more prosaically, discriminate against some people because of its design? As a thoughtful designer of technology you will want to know how to answer these questions.This class will give you support and practice in thinking about how people will use the software you design. It is not about code or languages, but is instead about people and systems. Thus, you will learn some basics of human-computer interaction (or user experience design), some basic philosophical ideas, a fair amount about particular ethical issues in computing (privacy, safety, professionalism, property, etc.), and a great deal about the topics and socio-technical system associated with the system you will be helping to design.

ACE Component: Students work in small groups to analyze the ethical implications of a socio-technical system for Copernicus Corporation and their texting and driving app. The students conduct an initial informational interview. Students then give clients a list of possible issues to analyze. Client and team choose several issues, collect data, and prepare a final presentation of their analysis, complete with suggested solutions and supporting material.


Environmental Studies

ENVST 237 Integration and Application in Environmental Studies

Instructor: Diane Angell

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The course brings together students from across the environmesonnntal studies areas of emphasis to explore complex environmental problems connected to community needs. The course satisfies the experiential component requirement.

ACE Component: Teams of students will work with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership to compile information on “best practices” for solving water pollution problems and trying to determine if voluntary conservation practices alone have led to cleaner rivers and lakes.


Exercise Science

ESTH 374 Biomechanics

Instructor: Jennifer Holbein

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Students analyze mechanical principles in depth as they affect human motion. Topics include study of muscular and skeletal systems, skill analysis, and motion measurement techniques. The course includes a laboratory component.

ACE Component: Students will work in pairs to conduct a Gait Analysis (recording, analyzing, and recommendations) with members from the St. Olaf community.


ESTH 376 Exercise Prescription

Instructor: Jennifer Holbein

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This course presents the fundamental principles of exercise testing and prescription for both healthy and special needs individuals. Students explore techniques for assessing fitness and prescribing exercise using a variety of ergometers for improvement of health fitness parameters. Students also utilize case studies and laboratory experiences. Topics include health/medical histories, submaximal graded exercise testing, and assessment of strength, flexibility, pulmonary functions, and body composition.

ACE Component: Students will work 1-1 with two St. Olaf clients (faculty or staff) to assess several health factors (e.g., strength, endurance, flexibility, nutrition, blood pressure, body composition) and then prescribe exercise regimens and dietary advice over the course of 12-weeks. Clients are reassessed at the end of the 12-weeks.



HIST 188A Perils of Prosperity

Instructor: Eric Fure-Slocum

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This first-year seminar explores the history of prosperity and privation that the U.S. experienced from 1920 to 1940. Americans dealt with economic expansion, widening inequality, and the Great Depression. Using primary sources that range from photographs and film to oral histories and government statistics, students investigate controversies over immigration, gender roles, youth, Prohibition, labor, the New Deal, and race. Student focus on how historians use and interpret different types of primary sources to create and complicate narratives about this period, asking also how histories of the 1920s and 1930s shape our understanding of recent swings of prosperity and peril.

ACE Component: Students will work with the Mapping Prejudice project, reading and interpreting historical documents that were used in the first half of the 20th century to segregate Minneapolis neighborhoods. The project is a digitally-based public history project that helps us to see and better understand the racial inequalities in housing that continue to have an effect on the city and its residents. Mapping Prejudice also is being used to inform public policy.


HIST 395 Oral History Seminar 

Instructor: Abdulai Iddrisu

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The seminar focuses on the theory and practice of oral history. Students learn to conduct, transcribe and incorporate interviews in projects. Students interrogate conceptual issues – the interview as narrative, memory, identity, connections, motivations, and the silences inherent in oral history – and how these relate to gender, religion, and class in multiple global settings. Students learn such practical techniques as how to probe social masks, evaluate oral evidence, and the legalities of releasing interviews.

ACE Component: Students will collect oral histories on behalf of local nonprofit organizations, such as the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Laura Baker Services Association, and the Community Action Center.



ID 271 Frontiers in Aging

Instructor: Ashley Hodgson, Jessica Petok

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We will consider contemporary and enduring questions relating to aging from many different perspectives: biological, psychological, social, economic, ethical, technological and political factors that relate to aging. Questions we will address include: What changes do people experience as they age, and how can societal institutions best serve this population given evolving population trends? What role should older adults play in society? How should end-of-life be handled?

ACE Component: Students will volunteer at FiftyNorth (formerly Northfield Senior Center) and participate in joint classes with the members from FiftyNorth.


ID 396 Res: Living and Dying 

Instructor: Mary Carlsen

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Living and dying: Explorations with young adults: The death rate is 100%. Yet conversations about how and where we die are the most important ones we are not having. This Directed Undergraduate Research course will examine and produce culturally appropriate tools and resources for teaching young adults about how to have conversations about dying and end of life. When and how we have such conversations can affect how we live in families and communities. Students will explore issues and resources through multidisciplinary lenses.

ACE Component: Students will research methods for talking about death with young adults for Honoring Choices MN.



LATIN 374 Cicero and Latin Prose

Instructor: Kyle Helms

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Rome’s greatest orator, Cicero, was also its greatest prose stylist and the author most responsible for supplying Latin with philosophical vocabulary. Selections from his philosophical, rhetorical, and oratorical works show the range of his talents and help demonstrate the development of Latin prose style.

ACE Component: Students will volunteer with a local government board or commission. Students will also attend and participate in their monthly meetings.


Management Studies

MGMT 229 Arts Management

Instructor: Sian Muir

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This course provides an overview of the key issues that face arts administrators. Topics addressed include strategic planning, budgeting, fund raising, audience development, and human resource management as each relates to the unique setting of the arts. Case analysis and guest speakers provide opportunities to explore application of key concepts.

ACE Component: Teams of students will research and write grants for various local arts organizations and present their projects to the community partners at the end of the semester.


MGMT 250 Marketing

Instructor: Sian Muir

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This course introduces the key elements of marketing principles. Topics include evaluating market opportunities; buyer behavior; market segmentation, targeting, and positioning; market strategy and planning; development of marketing mix; and marketing organization and control. Students are challenged to apply the principles learned in class to current and real world marketing issues. The course includes readings, case study analysis, in-class exercises and group projects.

ACE Component: Students will work with businesses and organizations to research and generate marketing plans.


Media Studies

MEDIA 360 Media and the Environment

Instructor: Bill Sonnega

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This course provides a capstone to the concentration. Taught as a seminar, it investigates critical and specialized issues in media from multiple and often competing perspectives. Topics change regularly and address a wide range of media-related concerns.

ACE Component: Teams of students will generate short awareness and advocacy documentaries on select environmental issues with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership and the City of Northfield’s Climate Action Plan Advisory Board.


Political Science

PSCI 350 Seminar: Immigration/Citizenship

Instructor: Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak

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This course investigates entry control policy, integration and citizenship policy, and the political activities of migrants in the wealthy democracies. Alternative arguments emphasizing the role of economic interests, sovereignty, national identity, and gender are introduced. Opportunities for academic civic engagement projects are included in the course.

ACE Component: Students will assist with research and editing of content for the Rural Immigration Network.


PSCI 370 Seminar: Courageous Resistance to Injustice

Instructor: Kristina Thalhammer

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Individuals, communities, and organizations have found ways to address even the most egregious state abuses of human rights and other injustices. Using comparative analysis, this course considers cases and theories of nonviolent personal and political resistance and the factors that appear to contribute to people taking action and to successful responses. Students research and analyze cases of their choosing in light of the literature.

ACE Component: Students work on social action projects that address an injustice with various community partners or for the general public good.



PSYCH 125 Principles of Psychology

Instructor: Gary Muir

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This course examines the basic principles and methods of psychological science from an evolutionary and cultural perspective. Students use critical thinking skills to examine fascinating topics: dreaming, cultural influences, identity, learning, thinking, and the biology of behavior. Applying basic research methods, students act as skeptical scientists. This course applies to almost any career choice in today’s world and provides insight into self and others.

ACE Component: Students will make a presentation about a topic in psychology to local youth in Northfield Public Schools.


PSYCH 230 Research Methods (Sections A & B)

Instructor: Grace Cho

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This course prepares the student with tools for understanding how research studies in psychology are conceptualized, designed, carried out, interpreted, and disseminated to the public. Use of library and Internet resources, ethical guidelines in the conduct of research and the skills of good scientific writing are emphasized. Students work independently and in small groups to design and conduct their own research projects.

ACE Component: Students will be working with Hand in Hand Preschool to aide them in the analysis of their developmental skills assessment.  Students will also examine factors associated with greater socioemotional, language, and cognitive competencies.


Social Work

SW 261 Inclusive Practice with Groups, Organizations, and Community 

Instructor: Lisa Moore

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Social work majors continue to study the methods and skills of generalist practice. They assess strengths and problems of diverse groups, organizations, and communities and use the systems perspective to help client systems frame goals and plans for social change. Students assess macrosystems and develop plans for implementing change that are reflective, scientific, just, and grounded in the liberal arts.

ACE Component: Students will be working with the League of Women Voters-Northfield and Cannon Falls on an affordable housing study for Rice County.



WRI 111 First-Year Writing: Interpreting Earth

Instructor: Emily Mohl

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A number of environmentalists and writers question the value and wisdom of conventional education. Some even ask, “What is education for?” In this seminar, we’ll pursue our own responses to that question. We’ll unpack the arguments in Richard Luov’s Last Child in the Woods and evaluate the importance of nature, culture, and place in education. After comparing the practices of environmental education and interpretation, students will use writing to practice interpreting a place or natural phenomenon of importance to them. Readings will convey or critique current educational trends and best practices, and model how interpretive writing can work through various lenses. Through readings and assignments, we will not only construct arguments about the purpose of education but also practice writing in a way that conveys our convictions.

ACE Component: Students will write interpretive pieces for the River Bend Nature Center.


WRI 211 Top: Science in World and Word

Instructor: Diane LeBlanc

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Science in World and Word is a blended reading seminar and writing workshop that explores science, technology, and the environment. Students read and respond critically and creatively to essays and creative writing in contemporary books and magazines including Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018 and The New York Times.

ACE Component: Students will write educational advocacy papers on light pollution for the City of Northfield’s Environmental Quality Commission.