Institutes, Programs and Centers

Academic Program: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program

The Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program is designed for students interested in challenges and opportunities that go beyond those offered by traditional lecture and laboratory courses. Through small discussion classes, field trips, retreats, guest lecturers, independent research and individualized faculty mentoring, the Program provides a stimulating variety of academic experiences for talented students. All Brown Honors Program graduates culminate their academic experience with an extensive research or creative project. Participation in the Program may be combined with any major and with any of Albion's career preparation programs in law, medicine, public service, environmental science, or business management.

Academic Program—Although they are not separated from the campus at large, Honors students at Albion do enroll in four unique Honors seminar courses in their first two years. Great Issues in Science, Humanities, Social Science and Fine Arts all explore topics of current interest through the use of classical and contemporary readings. Through their small size, discussion format and emphasis on critical thinking and writing, these special courses encourage students to value ideas and to play active roles in their own intellectual development. They also fulfill the special core curriculum for Honors students.

In addition to the Great Issues seminars, Honors students must graduate with at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and produce an Honors thesis. The Honors thesis presents a unique opportunity for Honors students to develop their capacity for original and independent research or creative activity. It also provides excellent preparation for a variety of graduate programs and careers. Work on the thesis begins in a student's junior year. For those who need help in selecting a thesis topic and finding an adviser, the Program offers an optional Thesis Development Colloquy to guide them through the process. All research and writing of the thesis takes place with close supervision of a faculty thesis adviser and two other faculty readers of a student's choosing. The Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA) also provides funds and summer research opportunities to support this project.

Special Features—The Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program Center is located in the historic Observatory building and contains a seminar room for Honors classes, the Honors coordinator's office, as well as meeting, library, computing and study areas for Honors students and their guests. Finally, the Program provides Honors students with opportunities to participate in our Prentiss M. Brown Common Reading Experience, attend popular cultural attractions, have special access to distinguished campus visitors, and to plan and run a variety of other social and intellectual activities through participation in the Honors Council.

Admission—Albion's Brown Honors Program accepts applications from students who show superior academic promise. Recognizing there is no one criterion by which academic potential is measured, the Honors Committee annually selects a group of applicants whose high school records, scores on national tests, essays and personal interviews indicate exceptional promise. Currently enrolled Albion College students, as well as high school seniors, may apply for admission to the Program.

Apply to the Brown Honors Program.

Contact the director for more information.

Academic Programs: Institutes and Centers

Albion's Institutes and Centers integrate theoretical and practical learning in distinctive and challenging ways. Intended for students who desire preprofessional preparation and academic work focused in a specialty area, these programs each have a specific curriculum and may include an internship, a capstone experience and opportunities for independent research. Successful completion of an Institute or Center's program, which is noted on the student's academic transcript, confers an advantage in gaining admission to graduate or professional school or in beginning a career.

Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service

The Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service assures qualified students a broad liberal arts education with concentrated study in the areas of government and public service. Special emphasis is given to problem-solving, decision-making and leadership. The program also requires students to complete a one-semester internship in public service.

The Ford Institute concentration is open to students with a serious interest in public service, regardless of their major. Present membership includes students with majors as diverse as art, biology, economics and management, English, history, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology. The program includes courses in ethics, public policy and communication, as well as a range of choices from courses in economics and management, English, modern languages, history and political science.

A director administers the program with assistance from a faculty advisory committee and a student council. An off-campus advisory committee is composed of individuals distinguished for their public service.

Curriculum—First-year students in the Ford Institute are expected to take PBSV 101, Introduction to Public Service. Upperclass students take courses in public policy, ethics, writing, speech communication, economics and management or modern languages. All seniors participate in the senior colloquium (PBSV 397).

Internships—The one-semester internship allows Institute students to apply the concepts learned in the classroom. Internship opportunities are extremely diverse and have included placements in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Michigan state and local government, and sites in England, France, Germany, Mexico and Australia. Traditionally taken during the junior year, internships are coordinated through the Ford Institute and include a system of student reporting and evaluation.

Institute Activities—Students also have an opportunity to work on the arrangements for visitors to the campus. Past visitors have included United States senators, ambassadors, governors, and members of Congress and state legislators. Each year, the Ford Institute sponsors lectures and other programs by distinguished public speakers. Student involvement includes the selection of speakers and visitors, and meeting and talking with the visitors while on campus.

Admission—Students are admitted to the Ford Institute only after being admitted to Albion College. Admission to the Ford Institute is selective. Participants are selected based on their proven leadership, interest in public service, academic ability and previous involvement in political, community and school activities.

All students are expected to maintain a high level of academic performance once admitted, to continue their involvement in campus and community affairs and to become involved in Institute activities.

Apply to the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.

Contact the director for more information.

Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management

The Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management combines the traditional strengths of the liberal arts education with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary for entry into leadership and management positions in today's global environment. Since 1973, the Gerstacker Institute has earned an excellent reputation for preparing corporate executives, entrepreneurs, accountants, non-profit managers, attorneys and family business owners. In addition, Institute graduates have attended top-tier business and law schools.

Two academic programs are possible within the Institute. One is the Gerstacker Institute concentration, which is for students who major in economics and management. The other is the management minor--Gerstacker track for students who have a major in a field other than economics and management. Students must be admitted to the Institute prior to pursuing either of these programs of study. Continued participation is contingent on maintaining high academic achievement and participating in the Institute's activities.

Gerstacker Concentration—Students complete degree requirements for a major in economics and management and additional requirements specific to the Institute. The program begins in the first year with honors sections of introductory courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics and also a course in financial accounting. Institute requirements that go beyond those of other economics and management majors include an organizational behavior class, two additional honors economics courses, an honors course in statistics, and courses in communication, English, business ethics and mathematics (at least through Calculus I). For specific course requirements, students should refer to the Gerstacker Institute Web site. Students may waive or substitute for course requirements with the approval of the Institute director. Finally, all Gerstacker concentration students complete two full-time internships or other approved off-campus experiences (as described later in this section).

Beyond the requirements,several elective courses are available in the Department of Economics and Management and other departments (such as Communication Studies, Modern Languages and Cultures, Psychology, Sociology, and Computer Science) so that students may pursue their individual interests in accounting, finance, marketing, human resource management, and other areas of business and management.

Management Minor--Gerstacker Track—This option is a minor within the Economics and Management Department designed for students who seek the core elements of the Gerstacker Institute, but are majoring in a discipline other than economics and management. The six-unit minor begins with the same introductory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, financial accounting, and organizational behavior as in the Gerstacker concentration. Students must then select two additional management courses with the help of the Gerstacker Institute director and department faculty. These courses will be selected to tailor a student's program to his or her academic major and area of professional interest. Students who select the minor also complete one full-time internship or approved off-campus program.

Internships and Study Abroad Opportunities—A key feature of the Gerstacker Institute is the opportunity, and requirement, for students to participate in off-campus internships and study abroad programs. Three possible alternatives exist within the Gerstacker concentration program.

  1. Complete two full-time internships at businesses or other organizations. The vast majority of these internships are paid and consist of three or four months of full-time employment in an organization chosen by the student in consultation with the Institute director.
  2. Complete one full-time internship, as described above, and one study abroad semester. The overseas experience could be at a foreign university in the student's second language or in English. This foreign study program would be completed during a full-time academic semester.
  3. Complete a full-time internship, as described above, and also an off-campus semester in an approved program that includes both an academic component and an internship experience. There are opportunities in both international and domestic programs.

Academic credit is given for internships on a credit/no credit basis based on successful job performance and completion of the Institute requirements for the internship, registration through Albion College and payment for one unit of credit.

Eligibility for the first internship begins with the second semester of the sophomore year. Students are eligible for study abroad and off-campus study/internship experiences starting in the first semester of the junior year. The first off-campus experience should be completed by the end of the junior year. Almost all students complete their second internship in the summer between their junior and senior years. A sample sequence is shown below only for illustrative purposes. The actual sequence may vary to meet the individual needs of students. For those pursuing the concentration, a summer session is required after the sophomore year to complete Institute requirements and make up for academic time missed during internships.

Sample Sequence of Study/Internship for Gerstacker Concentration Students:






On Campus

On Campus



On Campus

On Campus

On Campus



On Campus



On Campus

On Campus

Students in the management minor-Gerstacker track complete a full-time internship as described in option 1 above, usually in the summer between their junior and senior years, or an off-campus program which includes an academic component and an internship experience as described in option 3 above.

Academic Standards—Members of the Gerstacker Institute must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all of the courses required for the concentration or minor, whichever they are pursuing. Students who fail to meet this standard will be placed on probation initially and given a chance to improve their grades. Probationary status may be extended for multiple semesters as long as the student is making progress toward meeting the standards. All required courses must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no-credit basis.

Special Features—Members of the Gerstacker Institute participate in workshops aimed at building a professional portfolio, developing career search skills, and practicing proper business etiquette. In addition, the Institute regularly hosts speakers from a variety of management fields who share their experiences with students, often one-on-one. Regular participation in these activities is a requirement for continued membership in the Institute.

Admission/Scholarships—The Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management enrolls a select number of students each year. Students considered for admission typically have shown evidence of strong leadership and intellectual abilities as well as interest in and awareness of the world around them. They have above average high school grades and standardized test scores. The application process includes completion of an essay and a personal interview with the Institute director. Students may apply for admission to the Institute along with or subsequent to applying to the College. However, they cannot be admitted to the Institute until they have been accepted by the College.

Students admitted to the Gerstacker Institute may be considered for scholarships which are separate from other aid awarded by Albion College. These endowed scholarships are awarded on the basis of high school academic achievement, leadership experiences, college entrance examination scores and financial need. They may be renewable each year for up to four years, contingent on a continued high level of academic performance and significant participation in Institute activities.

Due to the limitations on space and the strong interest in the Institute, early application is advised.

Apply to the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management.

Contact the director for more information.

Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences

Albion College's pre-health professions program has an excellent reputation for providing academic preparation for students wishing to enter the medical professions. The mission of the Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences (IPPHS) is to continue this fine tradition while expanding the scope of educational opportunities by integrating analysis of issues such as advances in genetic technology, ethical decision-making in a biomedical context, health insurance limitations, and the influence of cultural values on health care decisions. This exploration is accomplished through seminars, guest lectures and joint programs with other college entities.

The Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences supports all students who are interested in a health-related career, including but not limited to those who plan to enter the practice of medicine. IPPHS provides academic and career advising and sponsors workshops, speakers, volunteer and internship opportunities, and a variety of special programs for all pre-health students. All students accepted to Albion College who pursue pre-health studies are considered affiliates of the Institute. Affiliates of the Institute have access to a resource library with information about careers and programs.

IPPHS also has an associate membership level. These members generally apply for admission to the associate level as incoming students, but students may also apply during their first year of studies. Besides having a solid academic background, associate members have generally spent considerable time exploring their chosen career before coming to Albion. The associate membership level offers extra training and programs such as CPR courses, reading groups and ethics discussions.

With an aging population and political pressure to guarantee access to health care for all Americans, it is vital that we train individuals not only to become competent medical practitioners but also to become caring professionals who are well-versed in the issues facing the medical field. Additionally, with the increased globalization of our society, it is important for students to recognize the contribution of various cultures to our body of health care knowledge and to discuss ways in which the global disparity of access to quality medical care can be minimized. This Institute offers students their critical first steps toward becoming well-educated, compassionate medical professionals.

Curriculum—Students are required to complete the appropriate prerequisite courses for the professional school they plan to attend. Pre-health students can major in any field and are encouraged to explore the full range of liberal arts course offerings in subjects including anthropology, sociology, economics, art, art history, psychology, history, philosophy and many other fields.

Activities—All pre-health students have access to speakers, workshops and advising sponsored by the Institute, and they are encouraged to explore the extensive resource library maintained by the Institute. First-year associate members also participate in a colloquium series that focuses on topics in health care and career issues. Upper-level associate students participate in discussion groups, meet with speakers, and are encouraged to complete an internship and/or research projects.

Admission—All students who come to Albion with pre-health interests are considered affiliates of the Institute. Students who wish to be associate-level members must apply for admission to the Institute. This step is usually taken as part of the application process to the College, and most members are admitted as incoming students. However, students may also apply during their first year of studies. Students are admitted based on their understanding of, and commitment to, a health-related career. Once admitted, students are expected to maintain a high level of academic performance, to continue to explore the health care field and to participate in Institute activities.

Apply to the Institute for Premedical Professons and Health Sciences.

Contact the director for more information.

Center for Sustainability and the Environment

The Center for Sustainability and the Environment encourages students to understand the environment and the human place in it by combining the intellectual tradition of the liberal arts with the practical experiences gained in internships and research projects. The Center's concentrations in environmental sciences and environmental studies allow students to explore environmental questions through participatory learning and research in preparation for graduate studies and/or careers in regulation, remediation, policy formulation, education and the law. The Center also sponsors internship opportunities, seminars and travel experiences designed to confirm the relationship between the liberal arts and environmental concerns.

The Center, through its member students and affiliated faculty, encourages all Albion students to develop an awareness of the physical makeup of the biosphere and an appreciation of the vulnerability of the ecosystem. It further encourages students to explore environmental issues from multidisciplinary perspectives and to recognize that their actions have environmental consequences. Through dynamic interaction between environmental theory and practice, locally based but recognizing that the environment knows no boundaries, the Institute enriches its immediate and extended communities.

The Center is headed by a director with assistance from a faculty/student advisory committee.

Admission—Students must apply for admission to the Center and the concentrations that it sponsors. Normally this step is taken as part of the application process to the College, and most members are admitted as incoming students. Students may also apply during their first two years at the College.

Apply to the Institute for the Study of the Environment.

Contact the director for more information.

Environmental Sciences Concentration

The environmental sciences concentration is intended for students who are majoring in one of the sciences offered at Albion and who are planning a career in the environmental field, either as a researcher or practitioner. The concentration provides both breadth and depth in sciences other than the major field of study, as well as practical experience through an internship.

Students who complete this concentration will be well prepared for graduate work in this area, or for entry-level jobs working with environmental consulting firms, analytical laboratories, government agencies or advocacy groups.

Requirements—The concentration, comprised of seven units of course work plus an internship, has the following requirements.

1. A major in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, computer science, mathematics/physics, or physics.

2. An environmental internship (one-half to two units).

3. Experience in two sciences outside the student's major by taking three units in one and two in another. At least three of these five courses must be above the introductory level, which means that these courses must have prerequisites. Courses are to be selected from the following list and in consultation with the concentration director and the student's major department. It is possible to substitute other upper level science courses, depending on the interests of the student.



Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity
Aquatic Botany
Vascular Plants
Invertebrate Zoology
Vertebrate Zoology
Environmental Microbiology


211, 212

Structure and Equilibrium
Inorganic Chemistry: Introduction
Chemistry and Social Problems
Organic Chemistry
Chemical Analysis
Advanced Physical and Analytical Laboratory (.5 unit)



Introductory Geology
Ground Water
Environmental Geology
Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
Advanced Geographic Information Systems

and one of the following:



Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
Glaciers and the Pleistocene

Mathematics and Physics count as one focus area.

Mathematics and Computer Science


Calculus of a Single Variable I
Calculus of a Single Variable II
Introduction to Computer Science I
Introduction to Computer Science II


115, 116
167, 168, 169

General Physics
Analytical Physics I, II, III
Introduction to Theoretical Physics

4. ENVN 220, Economics, Ethics and Environmental Policy (one unit).

5. One course in statistics from the Mathematics Department.

6. Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.

Environmental Studies Concentration

The environmental studies concentration is designed for students who have an interest in environmental issues and plan careers in related fields. The choice of courses for this concentration is more open than in the environmental science concentration, due to the varying interests and backgrounds of the students who choose this option. Participating students may pursue a major in any field.

Students who complete this concentration might, for example, enter science journalism or work for environmental advocacy groups.

Requirements—The following are required for the concentration, which may be completed in conjunction with any major at the College:

1. An environmental internship (one-half to two units).

2. ENVN 102, Introduction to the Environment (one unit).

3. ENVN 220, Economics, Ethics and Environmental Policy (one unit).

4. Two skills courses selected from the following:

Economics 101

Introduction to Economics

English 203

Advanced Expository Writing

Political Science 216

Public Policy Analysis

Mathematics 210

Introduction to Statistical Analysis

No more than one lab science course selected from the following (this option not available for science majors):

Biology 195

Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity

Geology 101

Introductory Geology

Chemistry 121

Structure and Equilibrium

5. Two courses that deal explicitly with environmental issues, selected in consultation with the director.

6. One course in the student's major that is given an environmental focus by completion of an environmental paper, project or activity within the existing structure of the course. Normally these will be at the 200-level or higher. This work will be done in consultation with the director and the course instructor.

7. Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.


The internships required by each concentration allow students to learn how environmental issues are dealt with on a practical, professional level. A wide range of internship opportunities is possible. Students have worked with both state and federal environmental agencies and park services, various non-governmental educational and advocacy organizations, and private companies. Summer research can also meet this requirement. Students have conducted research on jaguars in Costa Rica, many organisms and habitats in Michigan, contaminated marshes in New York State, volcanoes and marine sediment in Antarctica, and organisms ranging from zooplankton through sharks in the Atlantic Ocean.

Center Activities

The Center sponsors several other opportunities for student enrichment, including field trips, student research projects, a residential E-House and a seminar program. The Center offers an annual field trip to see important ecosystems within the United States, and human impacts on these systems. To support student research, the Center provides stipends for students who elect to spend the summer on campus working on independent research projects. The bi-weekly environmental seminar provides an opportunity for students to hear about other students' research and internship experiences, recent graduates' experiences in work and graduate school, faculty lectures on environmental topics, and senior professionals' reflections on their careers. Albion is an affiliate member of the School for Field Studies, which offers environmental field studies in Australia, Mexico, Turks and Caicos Islands, Costa Rica and Kenya.

Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development

The Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development advances the liberal arts tradition as an excellent foundation for teacher education. The Education Department supports students seeking teacher certification and professional preparation to engage in a distinctive and relevant undergraduate education that combines the following qualities: (1) depth of disciplinary study in an academic major; (2) broad and interdisciplinary focus of an innovative core curriculum; (3) array of field experiences in classroom teaching; diverse and thorough engagements with current issues impacting education; and ethics of civic responsibility and affirming diversity.

The distinctive focus of the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development is to link the Albion College Teacher Education Program (TEP) to the Albion Public Schools and other area schools in innovative and exemplary ways. This intentional engagement with schools will enhance the preparation of Albion's teacher education students and provide opportunities for a rich multicultural experience and a more meaningful involvement with policy issues.

With support from the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development, graduates of the Albion TEP will become superior teachers—well-versed in their subject areas, highly skilled in sharing knowledge with their students and dedicated to engaging their students in lifelong learning. Because of their own liberal arts perspective, they will help their K-12 students make connections among diverse fields and understand how their education relates to the world beyond the classroom. Additionally, the Institute's research and scholarship activities, such as the Shurmur Mentorship Practicum and public issues forums, create opportunities for prospective teachers to become knowledgeable about, and involved in, educational reform at the local, state and national levels.

Requirements—The TEP offers three concentrations in education, found in the Education Department listing. Elementary concentration students must complete a teaching major, a planned program and core curriculum courses leading to certification in a self-contained K-5 classroom with an option for teaching a subject area in grades 6-8. Secondary and K-12 concentration students must complete both a major and a minor in addition to education courses. The teaching majors and minors available at Albion College are listed in the Education Department description, and specific course requirements for each are listed under the respective academic departments in the Departments and Courses section. Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development certification students are required to maintain a 2.7 cumulative grade point  average, and a 3.0 average in their major, minor, and other course work required for the TEP.

Activities—In addition, the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development director sponsors nationally known speakers for the student teaching capstone lecture, offers public roundtable discussions focused on topics related to education and public policy, and supports field trips to different educational settings to allow students to experience different models of educational practice in other regions of the country or the world. In conjunction with the Ferguson Center for Technology-Aided Teaching and Learning, students are encouraged to thoughtfully integrate the use of technology into their teaching and develop pilot projects, symposia and other structured study with academic technology.

Students are invited to partner with faculty in educational research based in, or in cooperation with, the local schools. They find encouragement and support in developing a research and scholarship agenda that addresses issues of public policy in education. Students also have the opportunity to travel to at least one professional educators' conference.

Admission—The Education Department, working in conjunction with the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development, will admit to the TEP second-year students who demonstrate both a strong intellect and an ethic of caring in anticipation of entering the teaching profession. Similarly qualified students may also be admitted after the second year. In order to be accepted and placed in the TEP, students are advised to fill out an interest form in the Education Department Office in Olin Hall. Contact the director for further information on the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development and the TEP.