More J-term excursions afield and afar

By Mac Weekly Staff

Galapagos Islands
Geology, Darwin, History, and Philosophy all came together for three Mac professors and 12 students this January, as they traveled to the Galapagos Islands from Jan 9 through Jan. 21. Professors Karl Wirth of the Geology department, Martin Gunderson of the Philosophy Department, and Arjun Guneratne, chair of the Anthropology department, co-taught a 2- credit course that met several times last fall and culminated in the trip to the Galapagos.
Professors and students explored the geology and biology of the Galapagos, a series of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador. A further component of the trip encouraged students to explore some of the philosophical issues tied to the islands, including Darwin and evolutionary theory, through investigating how species from South America have evolved in the Galapagos, as well as the ethical issues that accompany ecotourism. Participants snorkeled, hiked, and participated in discussions, staying in a small village on the islands, and even briefly exploring Quito, Ecuador’s capitol city.
Wirth has led two trips to the Galapagos previously, in 1999 and 2003, but this was the first time Gunderson and Guneratne joined him.
Students were required to complete a five to ten page paper on an individually selected topic upon their return to Macalester.
According to Wirth and Gunderson, this course and trip were the beginning of what both hope to be a continued bridge between humanities and sciences at the college. Biology Field Study
Nine Macalester students, led by Professor Jerald Dosch, took the knowledge they acquired in the Biology course “Winter Ecology of Northern Minnesota” last semester and applied it first-hand over January break. They went first to Ely, Minn., where they traveled on dog sleds into Superior National Forest, and also spent time at the International Wolf Center in Ely.
The trip continued in Itasca where the University of Minnesota has a Field Station from which the Mac students based two projects. The first project involved studying aquatic ecology in winter, taking water samples through the ice and testing, among other things, water chemistry, light intensity and distribution of phytoplankton at different depths. A second project tackled winter ornithology, working to track numbers of species of birds as well as how many individual birds were observed. Results from both projects will be presented in either an academic presentation or scientific paper format this semester, Dosch said.

Mac Choir Trip
The Macalester Choir continued their annual January trip tradition with a tour in Chicago this January 18 through 21. The 42 students who participated in the trip spent a few days rehearsing before heading to Chicago, and returned to campus a week before classes began this semester.
The Choir, directed by Bob Peterson, made four stops while on tour, first at Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wis., then continuing on to Chicago. They stayed in downtown Chicago and performed first at DePaul University where they also watched the DePaul choir perform and worked on two pieces as a combined choir. This was followed by performances in St. Peter’s Church, and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, both in Chicago.
In addition to their rigorous performance schedule, the choir members also were able to attend the 25th annual Putnam Spelling Bee Musical, as well as the Chicago Lyric Opera’s performance of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermous.
Peterson hopes to take the choir on an international trip next January.

African Music Ensemble
The African Music Ensemble members returned to Macalester in time to begin rehearsals Jan. 7. They left Jan. 11 to head up to Fargo, N.D., where Director Sowah Mensah led them in performance on Jan 12 at Fargo North High School. The same night of the Fargo performance they traveled to Spicer, Minn., for a weekend retreat. Joined by many alums of the ensemble, they spent the weekend rehearsing at a camp there.
Upon arriving back at Macalester on Jan. 14, ensemble members spent the week performing in Janet Wallace for various local elementary schools, culminating in a performance Friday, Jan. 18, at Wildwood elementary school, in Mahtomedi, MN.
HATTIE STAHL