Environmental Studies (ENVR)
The Environmental studies program provides students with a broad interdisciplinary background as well as a basis for career specialization and practical application and problem solving. The program is based upon an investigation both of the Earth’s environment and the wide variety of human interactions with that environment. The program has three basic objectives:
1. to transmit an understanding of environmental problems and their complexities,
2. to motivate productive responses to those problems, both vocational and avocational, based on that understanding,and
3. to foster the development of critical, inquiring minds.
All students majoring in Environmental studies are required to take 36 credits in core courses, another 24 credits in concentration-area courses, and four credits in an allied course. The core courses are designed to provide the student with a foundation in the physical, social and ethical dimensions of environmental issues. Students graduating with a major in environmental studies will demonstrate their ability to integrate their liberal arts and professionally-oriented education. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take additional courses in writing and computer applications, and should consult the chair of the Environmental Studies Committee for recommendations.
The concentration area consists of a minimum of an additional 24 credits beyond the core. These courses are meant to deepen the student’s understanding of the origin and complexity of environmental issues while focusing attention on one particular area of study (e.g., engineering, math, journalism, justice & peace, geology, English, sociology, etc.).
The student may:
a. choose to specialize in an existing area of study or
b. may propose an individually designed concentration program.
In either case, students are required to submit a 6-course Concentration Area Proposal to the Governance Committee for approval. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss the formation of their concentration area with the director of the program or another member of the Governance Committee. Committee members can assist students in constructing successful concentration area proposals. Students are encouraged to identify their concentration area by the end of their sophomore year or the first semester of their junior year.
The International Studies major seeks to give the student a basic understanding of the contemporary international system. It combines study in economics, history and political science with a concentration in one of these fields, along with the study of a foreign language beyond the College’s general education requirement. The program enables students to relate international interests to a broad range of careers including government, international business, nonprofit associations and teaching.
Students graduating with a major in international studies should have adequate preparation for their professional lives, and the capacity for intellectually stimulating lives. They will be capable of critical thought and writing in the discipline. They will have pursued opportunities for broader governmental and international experience, and should be well-prepared to undertake post-baccalaureate studies.
Justice and Peace Studies (JPST)
Justice and Peace Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students to be responsible critics of contemporary societies and effective agents for positive social transformation. Core courses for the major and minor, and the pattern of the program in general, make use of the four stages of the Circle of Praxis:
1. Experience (actual and vicarious) of poverty, injustice, violence and marginalization.
2. Descriptive analysis: Empirical study of the economic, political, social, and cultural realities of society, and the historical events that produce them.
3. Normative analysis: Moral judgment on existing societies; study of alternative possibilities; and analysis of the moral values at stake.
4. Action possibilities: Strategies and skills for transforming society from its present condition to a better condition.
The justice and peace studies program is strongly interdisciplinary and interfaith. It promotes understanding and appreciation of widely diverse ideologies, cultures, and world views. Special attention is given to the rich tradition of Roman Catholic social thought in the context of pluralistic world societies.
Students graduating with a major in justice and peace studies will understand how the circle of praxis works, as well as the role of each of its components (see above). They will also know how to use skills associated with each component. They will know the principles of active nonviolence, how it operates to promote social change, and several historical examples of its use. Students will also learn the techniques and uses of other methods of social change and how to judge when to use each method effectively. They will be able to engage in respectful dialogue with people
who value and propose responses to violence and injustice that differ widely from their own. They will understand and be able to use conflict resolution skills in personal life and small groups, and they will understand how these techniques are used in inter-group and international conflicts. They will have developed the personal skills and confidence to work effectively in organizations committed to justice and peace.
While all core courses utilize all four steps of the circle of praxis, JPST 250 concentrates on experience and descriptive analysis, and THEO 305 concentrates on normative analysis. The others concentrate on action possibilities.
JPST 250 and THEO 305 require extensive student writing and discussion. One elective course, JPST 385, typically incorporates a service-learning, action research, or inquiry-based research component that connects the classroom setting to experiences in local, domestic or global communities.
Legal Studies (Minor only)
The minor in legal studies enables students to undertake a multidisciplinary examination of the relationship of law to culture and society. Understanding the foundations and nature of law and legal process is an integral element of a liberal arts education. Several departments within the university offer courses that examine the sociological, political, philosophical, journalistic, historical, economic and business aspects of legal behavior and legal systems.
By drawing on those courses, the legal studies minor exposes students to a variety of perspectives on the study of law and provides a broad understanding of the role of law in society.
The legal studies minor is not intended as a pre-law program, although it may prove especially attractive to students interested in careers in law, public administration or related professions. Its objective is to allow students to undertake an examination of law and legal process within a liberal arts context.
The major in the social sciences is intended for the liberal arts student who wishes to become familiar with the perspective of the four disciplines traditionally defined as the social sciences – economics, history, political science, and sociology & criminal justice – and who wishes at the same time to study more intensively one of those disciplines. In requiring both introductory and advanced courses in each of the disciplines, irrespective of the area of concentration, the major provides both opportunity and challenge for the student seriously interested in understanding the order, structure and interrelationships involved in human behavior.
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Women’s Studies (WMST)
The Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) offer a cooperative major in women’s studies. Women’s studies is an interdisciplinary program which takes gender as its critical term of inquiry, exploring it as a social construct and analyzing its impact on traditional disciplines. As an interdisciplinary major and minor, women’s studies spans the curriculum, incorporating many disciplines in a diverse and stimulating package of courses. Courses consider historical and contemporary contexts from multicultural and multiracial perspectives, and focus on the intersections of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and culture.
Students in the program learn how to analyze social forces and assumptions that have shaped women’s lives on individual, national, and global levels. This flexible program of study combines theoretical, practical and research components and provides preparation for both advanced study and professional work, for example, in organizations focusing on women, in human relations departments of corporations, and in health or legal professions.
Women’s studies majors and minors are encouraged to study abroad. Specific courses taken abroad may substitute for St. Thomas requirements. See the director of women’s studies, a study abroad advisor in the International Education Center, or Academic Information & Programs in the front section of this catalog for program options.