For Northland College students, the foundation of their academic studies is established through one of the College's Connections curricula—Superior Connections , Growing Connections , or Natural Connections . Students elect to complete one of these curricula when they enter the College, and the courses required for their chosen Connections curriculum account for approximately one-third of the courses they will complete at the College. Academic major requirements and elective courses typically account for the other two-thirds.
All of the Connections curricula—Superior, Growing, and Natural—are designed to assure that students develop:
- foundational skills in communication, quantitative reasoning, and personal wellness;
- a breadth of disciplinary learning characteristic of a liberally educated individual;
- an understanding of human and cultural diversity; and
- an appreciation for the relationship between humans and the natural world that prepares graduates to live lives that are sensitive to the needs of an ecologically sustainable future.
The teaching of writing and speaking skills is integrated into the Connections blocks that are required in all of the Connections curricula. While enrolled in these blocks, students complete assignments and activities comparable to those in writing and speaking intensive courses offered at other institutions, thus completing the equivalent of at least four writing and speaking intensive courses by the time of graduation.
In addition, the Connections curricula are structured to demonstrate the value of integrated, multidisciplinary approaches to understanding the world. After completing a Connections curriculum, students understand the strengths and limitations of specific academic disciplines and are prepared to think systemically and creatively about complex questions.
Students who successfully complete a Connections curriculum at Northland College have the option of declaring an environmental studies minor. (Transfer students who satisfy Connections curricula requirements through transfer equivalencies do not have this option.)
Superior Connections is a curriculum integrated thematically by a focus on the Lake Superior watershed. Students who enroll in Superior Connections develop expertise in the natural and human histories of the watershed, then use this expertise to study and engage a variety of complexly interconnected environmental and cultural issues. The program incorporates a number of field trips in its courses, including a one-month journey around Lake Superior. Students emerge from Superior Connections empowered by experiences of connectedness to make meaningful contributions to the watersheds and communities in which they will live.
Students must apply to participate in Superior Connections; they complete the program as a cohort of approximately twenty students.
XNN 115 Natural Setting of Lake Superior
XHH 115 Lake Superior Lives & Stories
XHI 200 Superior Connections
XSS 215 Communities of Lake Superior
Prior to Graduation
- Quantitative Reasoning Course 3-4 Credits
Total Superior Connections: 39-40 Credits
Growing Connections is a curriculum that focuses on the history, theories, and practices of sustainable agriculture. Participants in Growing Connections work closely with faculty mentors and regional farmers in classrooms, labs, and fields to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of food systems and of the role that agriculture plays in human culture and ecological health.
Students must apply to participate in Growing Connections; they complete the program as a cohort of approximately twenty students.
XHH 105 Agricultural Humanities
XNN 105 Sustainable Food & Agriculture
XHN 115 Food, Religion, & Geology
XSS 210 Growing Connections
Prior to Graduation
- Quantitative Reasoning Course 3-4 Credits
Total Growing Connections: 38-39 Credits
Natural Connections is a curriculum that allows students to explore a variety of themes or questions. Students completing Natural Connections may select blocks of courses that focus on different themes or questions each semester, or they may select blocks of courses that explore the same question or theme across two or more semesters. Faculty teams dedicated to Natural Connections curriculum provide multi-disciplinary perspectives on the themes or questions of the different blocks, and students develop sophisticated understandings of the complexities inherent in each.
1) Students pursuing Natural Connections must complete . . .
- two courses from different disciplines that emphasize ways of knowing characteristic of the Humanities; (6-8 Credits)
- two courses from different disciplines that emphasize ways of knowing characteristic of the Natural Sciences; (6-8 Credits)
- two courses from different disciplines that emphasize ways of knowing characteristic of the Social Sciences; (6-8 Credits)
- two elective courses that emphasize interdisciplinary, humanistic, natural science, or social science ways of knowing; (6-8 Credits)
- one quantitative reasoning course; (3-4 Credits)
- one experiential course or a three/four credit internship (3-4 Credits).
The way of knowing (Humanities, Natural Sciences, etc.) associated with a specific course as well as experiential designations are identified in the college catalog.
2) In addition, Natural Connections students must complete at least one Connections block during their first semester at Northland, two by the end of their second semester, three by the end of their fourth semester, and four Connections blocks by the time of graduation.
Connections blocks are identified in course schedules by course codes that begin with X. For a current listing of Connections blocks, use the Course Search function on My Northland to view schedules for a specific semester or term.
Typically, Natural Connections students fulfill their disciplinary requirements (Humanities, Natural Sciences, etc., see #1 above) through their Connections blocks (#2 above), but they may also take individual courses to fulfill disciplinary requirements if desired.
Total Natural Connections: 30-40 Credits
Connections Curriculum Equivalencies for Transfer Students
(including first-time, full-time students with prior college credit)
Students who enroll at Northland with college credits earned at other institutions may fulfill some or all of the Connections curricula requirements through transfer equivalencies. Individual transfer evaluations will indicate which requirements, if any, have been met through these equivalencies.
Repeating Connections Blocks & Courses
A Connections block consists of a title, or X, course and two academic classes, which are the content courses. Students must successfully complete both content courses to receive credit for the block. If students withdraw from one or both of the two content courses during the term, they will automatically be withdrawn from the title, or X, course, which will appear as a "W" on the transcript. If students fail one or both of the two content courses, they will receive a grade of unsatisfactory in the title, or X, course, which will appear as a "U" on the transcript.
If students wish to earn credit for a block from which they have withdrawn or in which they have received an unsatisfactory grade, they must repeat the entire block—the title course and both content courses. Students are not required to do this, and may instead choose to complete a different block to fulfill the requirements of the Connections curriculum. If students wish to repeat only a content course that they failed or withdrew from, they may do so only if that course is offered independent of a block format in a future semester. Repeating a single-content course will not result in credit for the block as a whole, and the grade on the original title course will not be changed.