Aaron Banks


Professor and Department Chair in Health and Exercise Science

I am currently a Professor and Chair in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.  I came to Gustavus in 2002 following the completion of my doctoral degree in Physical Education Pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado in 2001.  Prior to that I had earned a B.A. in Biology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota (1992) and an M.S. in Health Appraisal & Enhancement from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (1998).  I very much appreciate the opportunity to work with the dedicated faculty and staff within the Department of Health and Exercise Science.  Their interests, passions, creativity, and support challenge me on a daily basis and make Gustavus Adolphus College an invigorating place of employment!

I would consider myself a generalist in Kinesiology-related fields where my interests are applied to both research and service activities.  For the past decade, my educational and scholarly interests have focused upon best practices and methods for general instructional strategies, curriculum development, and quality assessment design within physical activity settings.  In addition, I was appointed by the Minnesota Department of Education to serve on the Minnesota Physical Education Standards Writing Committee in 2013-2014.  This was an interesting experience, as I worked with a team or writers to rewrite and revise the elementary, middle, and high school-level physical education state standards.  While I have written multiple book chapters and several journal manuscripts over the years, my recent scholarship has focused upon co-authoring FitQuest: A Personal Journey.  FitQuest is a web-based text designed to provide college and university students a personalized learning experience within general fitness, sport, and activity classes. 

I am an active presenter at state, regional, national, and international conferences, typically presenting between 3 and 5 papers annually.  Additionally, I challenge students every year to complete student-faculty research projects for presentation at various venues.  I find it rewarding to help future professionals explore their interests in creative ways.  In 2012 I was honored by the Minnesota Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance as the recipient of the prestigious Lou Keller Award.  The award recognizes outstanding services and contributions to Physical Education by a university professional.   

As a Physical Educator, I am committed to promoting the general wellbeing of Gustavus students from both within and outside the classroom.  I challenge students to embrace, yet question, the institution’s core values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith in relation to one’s personal vocation.  Working within the Physical Education program, I have taught courses such as Elementary Physical Education Methods & Content, Secondary Physical Education Methods & Content, Curriculum & Assessment, and the History & Philosophy of Physical Education.   I further support institutional academic programming efforts by teaching the ever-popular First Term Seminar Leisure Quest.  Over the years, students enrolled in Leisure Quest have participated in the building of over 100 Adirondack chairs that currently grace the campus landscape. Whether it be completing a service project such as the Adirondack chair build, teaching writing or public speaking, or advising and mentoring, I enjoy working with first year students and helping them to successfully transition to the collegiate experience. 

Service to the institution has also been a wonderful opportunity to develop and hone my leadership capabilities.  Over the years I have sat on many campus and departmental committees, chairing both the Faculty Development Committee and the International and Domestic Programs Committtee.  In my current role as Department Chair, I have been challenged to oversee the day-to-day operations of one of the larger departments on campus.  While I continue to learn something new on a daily basis, my first priority remains the service of others in positive and beneficial ways. 

An avid traveler and Olympic enthusiast, I have successfully designed and led nearly 200 Gustavus students on six international January-term travel abroad courses. Olympic Quest investigates the history of the ancient and modern Olympic Games through a cultural, philosophical, societal, and athletic lens, focusing upon the impact that the Games have had on the development of Western civilization.  A popular course, Olympic Quest has traversed around the globe, bringing participants to China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. In the spring of 2015, I was honored to receive the the Ruth Mason Award for Excellence in January Off-Campus Teaching.  

I live in St. Peter with my wife, Heather Banks, and our two children (Luke and Jake).  In addition to my interest in traveling, my leisure pursuits include the culinary arts, Harry Potter, playing guitar, woodworking, home renovation projects, scholarly writing, attending summer concerts, experiencing small town festivals, and reading to or playing with my boys!



Ed.D. - Physical Education Pedagogy, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado (2001); M.S. - Health Appraisal & Enhancement, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (1998); B.A. - Biology, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota (1996)

Courses Taught


HES-209 (Hist/Phil of HlthEd/PE), HES-232 (Elementary Physical Education Content and Methods), and HES-316 (Curriculum in Hlth/PE)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
HES-232Elementary Physical Education Content and Methods212015/SP, 2014/FA, 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, 2012/FA, 2012/SP, 2011/FA, 2011/SP, 2010/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, 2005/SP, and 2004/FA
HES-128Self-Defense192013/SP, 2012/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, 2005/SP, 2004/FA, 2004/SP, 2003/FA, and 2003/SP
HES-094Methods Practicum182015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/FA, 2011/SP, 2010/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, 2005/SP, and 2004/FA
HES-396Reflections on Student Teaching152011/FA, 2011/SP, 2010/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, 2005/SP, 2004/SP, and 2003/FA
HES-100Physical Fitness: Walking132013/SP, 2012/SP, 2010/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/SP, 2004/SP, and 2003/SP
HES-209PhyEd Hist & Principle102015/SP, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, 2005/FA, and 2004/FA
FTS-100FTS:Leisure Quest102014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
HES-267NordicSki OffCampus Prac102009/SP, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2007/JN, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, 2005/FA, and 2005/SP
HES-304Teaching Phy Ed Meth82015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2010/SP, 2008/SP, 2006/SP, and 2004/SP
HES-242Olympic Quest: Europe52015/JN, 2014/JN, 2013/JN, 2012/JN, and 2008/JN
HES-224Introduction to Physical Education Teaching52011/SP, 2007/SP, 2005/SP, 2003/FA, and 2002/FA
HES-314Elementary Physical Education Content and Methods52004/FA, 2004/SP, 2003/FA, 2003/SP, and 2002/FA
HES-219Physical Education Activities for Elementary Education Majors42004/SP, 2003/FA, 2003/SP, and 2002/FA
HES-301Elementary Physical Education for Majors32006/SP, 2005/SP, and 2003/SP
HES-316Physical Education Curriculum22014/FA and 2013/SP
HES-211The Meaning of Leisure22006/JN and 2004/JN
HES-268Career Exploration22006/JN
HES-126First Aid and CPR22004/FA and 2003/FA
HES-245France, Germany, and Spain Olympcs12010/JN
EDU-395K-12 Directed Teaching12006/JN
HES-223Stress Management12003/FA
HES-311Physical Education Program12002/FA