An Education in the Liberal Arts

Academic Catalog 2010–2011

Gustavus strives to be a distinctive community of learning, known for dedication to excellence and to the development of the whole student. This means nurturing an intellectual climate that encourages scholarly activities by both students and faculty. Central to this vision is excellence in teaching. Conversations among students, between students and faculty, and among faculty members are the fabric of the College community.

Woven into this fabric are programs and opportunities that strengthen and add substance to a college education. They include academic advising, a core of coursework to develop both a breadth of knowledge and writing skills, an academic calendar that offers flexibility, special academic opportunities, and top-notch facilities.

4-1-4 Calendar Year

The academic year at Gustavus comprises a four-month fall semester, a one-month interim, and a four-month spring semester. It is common during a semester to take four courses. During January, or Interim Experience (IEX), students take one course, the content of which is comparable to a full semester.

Two IEX courses are required for graduation. Students have a variety of choices including an on-campus course, a career exploration, a class taken abroad, or a class offered by any approved college also offering interim coursework.

A listing of IEX courses is available to students online prior to registration. Policies on Interim Experience can be found in the section titled “Academic Information and Policy.”

Core Requirements

All Gustavus students devote approximately one-third of their coursework to an examination of the liberal arts. Prior to the start of their first year, students select either Curriculum I or Curriculum II.

The two liberal arts tracks are similar in that both require courses from the same academic areas, involve approximately the same number of courses, are compatible with every major, and allow for study overseas or an internship during the junior or senior year. Both programs insure that every Gustavus graduate has a broad-based liberal arts background to complement the more specialized study represented by the student’s major.

In Curriculum I, students select nine courses from a list of approved courses that represent various academic areas (i.e., the Arts, Natural Science, and Social Science), choosing one or more courses each semester. Another course, a First Term Seminar, is to be selected by all Curriculum I students for the first semester of their first year. Curriculum I may be described as a distributional liberal arts core program.

In Curriculum II, students select a set of nine courses from various academic areas designed to be taken over a four-year period in a recommended sequence with other Curriculum II students. (Three additional courses are selected by Curriculum II students individually.) The Curriculum II courses, focusing on a theme of the relationship between the individual and the community, examine the Western intellectual and cultural tradition, its long continuity, and the diversity within it. Through coursework, retreats, and special seminars, students are introduced to various facets of the global society in which we live. Curriculum II is designed to enroll approximately 10 percent of each entering class; selection is based on date of application to the program. Curriculum II may be described as an integrated liberal studies core.

Writing Program

Put simply, clear writing reflects clear thinking. Both are central to the Gustavus liberal arts experience. Both are skills crucial to life after college as well.

Most Gustavus courses require writing. However, Gustavus is committed to teaching writing skills throughout the curriculum. Thus, under the Writing Across the Curriculum program, all Gustavus students are required to take three designated writing courses, including one Writing Intensive (WRITI) course and one Writing in the Disciplines (WRITD) course. These three courses must be taken from at least two different academic departments, and at least one of these must be Level II (#200) or higher.

Peace Studies

Peace Studies at Gustavus includes both an interdisciplinary minor and a college-wide Peace Studies program. For a detailed description of the Peace Studies minor, please see the Majors and Minors section of the catalog.

The Peace Studies Program was established in 1970, and it seeks to infuse a concern for peace and justice both in and out of the classroom. Administered by a committee of faculty, staff, and students, the program provides speakers, residencies, and conferences that focus on specific peacekeeping and peacemaking issues. Annual lectures honor the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Raoul Wallenberg.

In addition, the Peace Studies program annually funds three student scholarships, including the Ruth Youngdahl Nelson Scholarship. Peace Studies also provides an annual grant to the Gustavus student delegation to the Model UN.

Academic Advising

Gustavus Adolphus College strives to instill in its students a capacity and passion for lifelong learning and encourages them to take an active role in their own education. To assist students in this intellectual and personal growth, each student is assigned a faculty academic adviser.

In the Curriculum I program, the First Term Seminar professor serves as a student’s first academic adviser, while in the Curriculum II program, a professor who teaches in the program serves as a student’s first adviser.

All first-year students are officially considered undeclared majors upon arrival and must keep their assigned adviser (FTS or CII) at least through the end of the first semester. If students are certain about their major, they are encouraged to talk with faculty from that major department while keeping their assigned adviser the first semester. If students are certain about a pre-professional interest, they are welcome to talk with the pre-professional faculty contacts. In addition, we hope students will use many campus resources like the Advising Center, Career Center, the Registrar’s Office, and the Center for Vocational Reflection from the very beginning.

If first-year students are ready to declare a major and arrange for an adviser from that department, the first time they are allowed to do so is after their first semester. If they are not ready, they should stay with their original adviser until they are ready, continuing to use campus resources as well. Spring semester of the sophomore year is a traditional time by which students should be ready to declare their major. Students must have a major declared to be eligible to register for classes in the spring semester of the junior year.

Transfer students are assigned an adviser from the Advising Center until they are ready to declare a major.

The mission of our faculty-based advising goes beyond simply prescribing courses. Faculty and students talk about course choices, the integration of coursework and co-curricular responsibilities, possible majors, and developing an academic program that will be finished in a timely fashion and will lead to further study or interesting careers.

Advisers supply students with accurate information about the curriculum and on- and off-campus resources, guide students in the decision-making process, and are available to answer additional questions and process information.

Conversations with advisers often introduce students to new, intriguing, and possibly unfamiliar academic opportunities available in the Gustavus community. Equipped with such information, students are in the position to ultimately become their own best adviser, in charge of their decisions, and prepared to shape their particular college academic career according to their skills, values, and interests.

Faculty-based advising is supported by the Advising Center, Career Center, and the Center for Vocational Reflection, where fulltime counselors are available to discuss options and opportunities.

Special Academic Opportunities

Academic Assistantships. Each academic department generally appoints at least one student annually as an academic assistant, based on demonstrated excellence in that major field as well as interest in the work.

Responsibilities vary among departments, but generally include one or more of the following: conducting a research project, assisting with a departmental research project, assisting with teaching a specific course, or serving as a student resource in departmental decision-making.

Student Research Opportunities. Collaborative research by students and faculty is encouraged at Gustavus. Research opportunities in all academic disciplines provide students with an ideal setting for integrating their knowledge base and creativity in the pursuit of new ideas at the frontier of knowledge. Each year Gustavus students and faculty members present the results of their research at numerous discipline-specific conferences around the country, in professional journals, and at the National Undergraduate Research Conference. Many opportunities for research are available both on campus and off. There is strong evidence that undergraduate research experience is an especially valuable asset when applying for graduate study, as well as when seeking employment requiring a high level of independence.

International Education. In keeping with the College’s mission of developing culturally and globally engaged students, Gustavus students are encouraged to include an international experience in their coursework. The Center for International and Cultural Education helps students choose a study-abroad program based on their academic goals and interests. International programs are available in more than 20 countries; fluency in a foreign language is required for some programs while others are taught in English and may offer language study on-site. While some programs are year-long, others are semester-long or take place during January Interim.

Gustavus has developed its own exchange or residential programs in China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Sweden. A brochure listing semester- and year-long programs and countries, from Australia to Uganda, may be obtained from the Center for International and Cultural Education or on the CICE website. Policies governing eligibility and credit transfer may be found in the section titled “Academic Information and Policy.”

Internships. Two types of internships are available at Gustavus: January Career Explorations and regular semester or summer internships. Generally, career explorations give students a closer look at potential career choices through working and observing. Semester internships give students experience in their chosen career field and are an extension and application of previously acquired academic skills.

Internships are available in almost all disciplines and exist in companies and organizations throughout the country. Specific policies governing internships may be found in the section titled “Academic Information and Policy.”

Honorary and Professional Organizations. A number of national or international honorary organizations have established chapters at Gustavus.

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honorary fraternity, with a limited number of chapters at schools with reputations for excellence in liberal studies. Membership, open to both men and women, is by election. Consideration is given to juniors or seniors who demonstrate competence in foreign language and math, have broad cultural interests, and who have devoted 75 percent of their coursework toward liberal studies. Minimum grade point average for juniors is 3.9 and for seniors is 3.6.

Gustavus has established two honorary organizations. The Guild of St. Ansgar recognizes seniors on the basis of scholarship, leadership, and participation in campus activities. Members are elected by a faculty-student committee. The Guild of St. Lucia is for junior women who have maintained at least a 3.333 GPA. Members are selected by faculty and current members on the basis of academic excellence, leadership, and service to the College. Other honorary and professional organizations include:

  • Alpha Kappa Delta: Sociology
  • Beta Beta Beta: Biology
  • Dobro Slovo: Slavic Languages
  • Eta Sigma Phi: Classics
  • Gamma Theta Upsilon: Geography
  • Kappa Delta Pi: Education
  • Lambda Alpha: Anthropology
  • Lambda Alpha Nu: Business
  • Lambda Pi Eta: Communications
  • Pi Delta Phi: French
  • Pi Kappa Delta: Forensics
  • Pi Kappa Lambda: Music
  • Pi Sigma Alpha: Political Science
  • Psi Chi: Psychology
  • Sigma Delta Pi: Spanish
  • Sigma Pi Sigma: Physics
  • Sigma Tau Delta: English
  • Sigma Theta Tau: Nursing
  • Sigma Xi: Natural and Social Sciences
  • Theta Alpha Kappa: Religion

Information on each organization is available from its respective academic department.