Technical Electives


Expand all

What is a Technical Elective?

It is any UMN course at the 2000-level or higher outside of ESCI that broadens our students’ knowledge base and augments their skills as geoscientists. Traditionally, such courses are within the CSE and may include courses in programming, organic chemistry, astronomy. Technical electives are different from elective, non-required courses within our department. A full list of accepted technical elective courses can be found here.

Do I need to take Technical Elective courses?

The BS in Earth Sciences is the only ESCI degree program that requires technical electives (7 credits).

What if I want to take a course that is not on the list of approved Technical Electives?

There is great flexibility in this regard, and you are encouraged to talk with your departmental advisor. New courses are offered throughout the university each semester and so long as a course offers knowledge and skills that will expand and complement your abilities as a geoscientist, then it is likely to count as a Technical Elective. Let your department advisor know, so that they can help ensure that the course is counted on your transcript as meeting this requirement

ESCI students are encouraged to take certain American Indian Studies courses as Technical Electives

In recognition of many issues, including but not limited to the following; 1) the University of Minnesota’s occupation of Dakota and Ojibwe homelands in the state of Minnesota, 2) the various legal and moral imperatives for geoscientists to navigate and/or (re)build more ethical relationships and partnerships with American Indian Tribal Nations and other Indigenous peoples, nations and communities (particularly with those whose lands and waters are researched and/or impacted by geoscience work) and lastly, 3) limited ESCI curriculum on Indigenous political issues, histories and environmental perspectives, we now encourage ESCI students to take American Indian Studies courses, which are offered mainly through the UMN TC’s own American Indian Studies program. Some of these courses will count towards the ESCI technical electives requirement.

The American Indian Studies program offers a range of courses on American Indian and Global Indigenous histories and political struggles situated within Minnesota, the United States, the Pacific and abroad. It also offers coursework on American Indian policy (i.e. Federal Indian Policy) and treaty history. Its courses focus on Indigenous place-based histories and political struggles (including but not limited to Indigenous land restoration/ repatriation movements, environmental stewardship and justice efforts and Indigenous climate activisms and environmentalisms) and offer students frameworks for thinking about Indigeneity and Indigenous political struggles in ways that are informed by the specificities of Indigenous locales, homelands, and peoplehoods. American Indian Studies courses offer ESCI students opportunities to draw connections between their geoscience research, training and everyday lives and historical and ongoing issues involving Native place and Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and decolonization.

 American Indian Studies courses offer ESCI students some of the appropriate and relevant sociopolitical and historical context(s), technical skills and intellectual resources necessary for engaging in more ethical and informed geoscience work, research and training on Indigenous lands. Many career pathways in Earth & Environmental Sciences will require professional work with Tribal Nations, Indigenous communities and their respective organizations and governing boards, including the development of long-term partnerships and relations with Indigenous communities.

We anticipate that the courses listed below will enhance students’ awareness of political, social, and environmental issues that relate directly to geoscience work in academic, regulatory, and private business settings and their own training in the geosciences. The following list is not exhaustive, but provides initial guidance for undergraduate students. Other courses not listed below that relate to environmental justice for minority communities and community engagement with the goal of addressing environmental problems also meet the spirit of these recommendations, and students are encouraged to contact the ESCI Director of Undergraduate Studies to have them added to this list.

The following courses qualify as Technical Electives for ESCI major programs:

AMIN 3312- American Indian Environmental Issues and Ecological Perspectives [ENV, 3 cr]

American Indian environmental issues in U.S./Canada. Analysis of social, political, economic, legal forces/institutions. Colonial histories/tribal sovereignty.

AMIN 3602 - Archaeology and Native Americans [DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

Historical, political, legal, and ethical dimensions of the relationship of American archaeology to American Indian people. Case studies of how representational narratives about Native people are created through archaeology; responses by Native communities; and the frameworks for collaborative and equitable archaeological practice. Professional ethics in archaeology/heritage studies in American contexts.

AMIN 3711 - Dakota Culture and History [HIS DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

Dakota culture, language, history, literature, contemporary issues and arts.

ESPM 3014 - Tribal and Indigenous Natural Resource Management [3 cr]

This course is designed to develop and refine your understanding of tribal and Indigenous natural resource management, tribal and Indigenous perspectives, and responsibilities natural resource managers have for tribal and Indigenous communities. This course includes one eight-hour weekend field session. 

HIST 3872/ AMIN 3872 - American Indian History: 1830 to the Present [HIS, DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

Focus on the impact of federal Indian policy on American Indian cultures and societies, and on American Indian culture change.

The following courses in American Indian Studies satisfy Liberal Education core requirements, such as Arts and Humanities (AH), or Historical Perspectives (HIS) or theme requirements such as Global Perspectives (GP), Environment (ENV), or Diversity and Social Justice (DSJ/RPJ):

AMIN 1001- Introduction to American Indian & Indigenous Peoples [DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr] 

Introduction to how voices/ visions of Indigenous peoples have contributed to the history of cultural expression in North America. Historic contexts/ varieties of this expression by region, tribal cultures. Emphasizes contributions in literature, philosophy, politics, fine arts.

AMIN 1002- Indigenous Peoples in Global Perspective [GP, 3 cr]

Colonial experiences of selected Indigenous peoples in the Americas, Euroasia, Pacific Rim.

AMIN 1003- American Indians in Minnesota [HIS, DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr] 

History, culture, and lived experience of American Indian people in Minnesota. Self-representation and histories of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Dakota peoples through film, music, oral traditions, and written texts. Work by non-Indian scholars focuses on cultural, philosophical, and linguistic perspectives of Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples. 

AMIN 3301- American Indian Philosophies [AH, DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

World views of Indigenous people of the Americas. Topics include Native medicines/healing practices, ceremonies/ritual, governance, ecology, humor, tribal histories, status of contemporary Native people.

AMIN 3409 - American Indian Women; Ethnographic and Ethnohistorical Perspectives [HIS, DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

Comparative survey of ethnographic/ethnohistorical writings by/about American Indian women.

AMIN 3871/ HIST 3871 - American Indian History: Pre-Contact to 1830 [HIS, DSJ/RPJ, 3 cr]

Introduction to American Indian history from ancient Native America to the removal era. Focuses on the social, cultural, political, and economic diversity of Native American peoples and Native American experiences with European colonialism

GCC 3036 - Seeking Connection through Decolonization: The power of indigenous languages and place-based knowledge in the face of racism [DSJ, 3 cr]

In this course students will grapple with ideological roots of the ongoing decline in Indigenous language and place-based knowledge and how their decline has implications for all peoples.