The “Magnus the Good” endowed fund, established by friends of the former Paracollege, supports a series of awards to encourage student-faculty collaborations in scholarly research, or in exploration of innovative applications of learning.
Established in 2003, the fund honors several important values of the college, including (1) that faculty and students learn well when they collaborate in one-on-one partnerships for research and/or reflection, and (2) that students learn well through having opportunities to apply and extend classroom learning.
Thus, the fund supports projects that provide opportunities for collaborative work between students and faculty, and that situate the proposed project in the context of the student’s interests and work, and also in the context of the faculty member’s interests and work.
Announcing the 2018-2019 Magnus the Good Collaborative Fellowships
(Read project descriptions by clicking on each title.)
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Music's Role in Environmental Education
An Alternative Possibility for Solving the Foreknowledge Problem
Surely foreknowledge by itself would not cause or compel me to do what I do; but if no compulsion is at work here, how is divine foreknowledge supposed to bind me to a particular course of action?
This puzzle has been a front-burner issue in academic philosophy of religion for the past few decades. It has drawn considerable interest from non-theists as well as theists, because in addition to its religious salience, the foreknowledge problem provides an arena where philosophers can examine contested ideas about the nature of free will. A handful of prominent responses to the foreknowledge problem exist in the literature, but none has gained the assent of a majority of philosophers. Most of these responses are rather technical, and lack the intuitive support one might hope for.
Our project is to formulate an original and intuitively satisfying response to the foreknowledge problem. Our approach is to focus on a well-known principle which says that free will requires “alternative possibilities”; that is, free will requires that when I am deciding whether to perform a particular action, both alternatives—performing it and not performing it—are genuinely open to me. This “principle of alternative possibilities” has figured prominently in debates about the nature of free will for over forty years, and it plays a key role in many formulations of the foreknowledge argument. Our central idea is (1) to use the foreknowledge problem to distinguish two different notions that tend to get lumped together under the heading of “alternative possibilities,” and (2) to show how, by disentangling these two notions, we can provide a tidy resolution of the foreknowledge problem. (In brief, our idea is that although “alternative possibilities” of a certain sort are indeed ruled out by divine foreknowledge, they are not the “alternative possibilities” that free will requires.)
“We Built the Field on the Hill:” How St. Olaf’s Black Action Committee Pioneered Ethnic Studies in the Liberal Arts
What’s missing from this official history is this: In 1968-69, St. Olaf’s Black Action Committee requested the formation of an interdisciplinary program to accompany Asian Studies, which had just changed its name from Oriental Studies. In 1969, St. Olaf established American Minority Studies authorized to offer a concentration and open to students from other institutions affiliated with the American Colleges of the Midwest. Five years later, the program added a major. Today’s Race and Ethnic Studies is the current iteration of this heritage program.
Our collaborative project places these two contexts in dialogue to ask: What is RACE’s significance to the pioneering of Ethnic Studies as a field, particularly among liberal arts colleges? Toward constructing a more complete history, we will explore the inceptions of other Ethnic Studies programs during 1968-1975, paying particular attention to the field’s development at liberal arts colleges. Our work will require travel to community archives in Chicago and San Francisco and to permanent collections at institutions where Ethnic Studies first emerged. Through archival research and oral and visual historical methodologies, we will develop a 50 th anniversary exhibition and photo book detailing the distinctive history of St. Olaf’s RACE program as a liberal arts leader in the field’s formation.
Music, Race, and Gender Identity in American Frontier Culture
The study will focus primarily on the music made by women living on the Montana frontier in the 1890s. Several large cities on the frontier, including including Butte, Helena, and Virginia City, have preserved substantial archival collections that illuminate women’s musical lives. The aforementioned cities were both mining towns, meaning that by virtue of a limited economic system, each city had a uniquely stratified society that highlighted difference in gender, class, and race. Women in these cities offer a specialized window into the way music contributed to the stratification of society, especially between upper class women and sex workers (sex work was often the only form of employment given to young, single women in Montana during the 1890s). Additionally, we chose this decade, the 1890s, because during this time, the newly minted state of Montana nearly doubled its population. All of these factors offer a compelling backdrop against which music worked to reinforce and challenge common Victorian gender ideologies and identity traits.
Turning the Page on Undergraduate Literary Publishing: A Pedagogical and Editorial Assessment of Undergraduate Literary Publications in the Midwest and at Peer Institutions
The breadth of this research, which would be infeasible for any current campus publication, single semester independent study, or literary course, will help provide an overall landscape of undergraduate editorial and publishing pedagogical practices and serve as a tool for students and faculty in both creating publications and planning for long-term sustainability of publications. The study will also provide valuable insight into the creation and management of literary publications to student collaborators as they consider graduate school pathways and careers in the literary sphere.
Examining gender disproportionality in the medical field from childhood to adulthood: a regional study
This study will evaluate the problematic, disproportional relationship between women in the medical field and the specialties they choose to pursue through a multi-faceted study of elementary school girls, middle/high school girls, pre-med women in college, and women within the medical field, specifically focusing on the Southern Minnesota region. Furthermore, this study will aim to gauge the age at which girls and women start to think that females belong in certain medical specialties or do not belong in the medical field at all. These aims will be accomplished in a two-fold process. First, girls from kindergarten, 3 rd grade, 7 th grade, 11 th and grade will be surveyed to determine the extent of girls’ interest in pursuing of a career in the medical field. As a part of this, surveys will also be used to obtain data regarding the perspectives and the ambitions of pre-med women at St. Olaf College. Secondly, this study will examine the types of professions within medical institutions that women pursue compared to the types of professions that men pursue in order to discover current representation statistics.
Overall, these results will provide insight to how disproportionate gender roles indicate what areas of the medical field are viewed as more advanced or specialized and how these specialties are gendered as masculine or feminine, revealing the prevalence of gender based power dynamics in medicine. Understanding these results will be imperative to deconstructing the hierarchies and power structures that prevent equal representation of women in the field of medicine. In addition, these results allow for investigation into what barriers, perceived or structural, exist in the medical fields women are not represented in. In particular, the results of the survey will be influential in further examining the correlation between age, gender, other external factors and the lack of women in professions within the medical field. Through these results, an age period can be extrapolated where educational intervention and exposure of young girls to possible careers in the STEM field can be instigated to improve equal representation and success.
Memories of Agricultural Yilan, Taiwan: An Excavation of Local Literature and Life Stories
Our student-faculty team aims to “excavate” the collective memories of agricultural Yilan in order to understand how these memories have influenced and should be factored into current economic policies. The research question the team seeks to answer is: What lessons from the past can positively influence Asian agriculture in the future? They will draw on traditional and nontraditional sources to explore the question. The team will conduct on-site interviews, study different genres of literature, and learn about Taiwanese writers of several generations. This project emphasizes a humanistic approach to economic and political issues in an increasingly global world.