Changes in Carleton’s Course Offerings Since 1867

Jocelyn and I will be working on the final project together to research how the course offerings within the science departments at Carleton have changed since 1867. This project can help us understand how college curriculum in the sciences has changed over time.

Sources: In executing our project, we would make use of Carleton’s database of academic catalogues (1867-present), in order to browse the courses offered at Carleton in the last 150 years. We will also use the Carleton photo archives to learn how the science facilities around campus have changed over time.

Processes: This project will involve looking through 150 years of course catalogues individually to determine trends and major shifts in the science departments at Carleton over time. We will utilize Zotero to keep track of citing our sources, as well as Voyant to look for trends in word usage throughout the course offering catalogs.

Presentation: While there are many possible ways for this final project to take form, we will create an interactive timeline to show how the sciences (course offerings, buildings, etc) have evolved over Carleton’s history. Our timeline inspiration comes from this timeline, which allows the user to hover and click on dates to read about the history of education during that time. From there, we will compare and see where the major shifts in course offerings have been over time. Additionally, we will use SketchUp to create 3D recreations of some of the science buildings on Carleton’s campus.


  • Collect all data on course offerings and building histories – Feb. 20th
  • Finish a rough draft of the final project – Mar. 1st
  • Be satisfied with our work and publish it – Mar. 9th

Our Personal Interests: Click on the links below to see why we are doing this project!

Author: Emilee

1 thought on “Changes in Carleton’s Course Offerings Since 1867

  1. Emilee and Jocelyn, this project on changes in course offerings sound very interesting, and your ideas for how to present it are promising. A few questions and suggestions:

    • I’m curious why you chose to focus on the sciences in particular, as opposed to comparing different disciplines?
    • For your analysis, what specific information from the course catalogs are you interested in? Majors offered? Individual courses? Sciences represented? All of the above?
    • You say “This project will involve looking through 150 years of course catalogues individually.” Are you going to read through each one, or are you looking to automate the process at all? You will probably want to extract the text from the PDFs, at least, but are you then going to edit them down or extract just the science portions, or do you plan to use the text of the entire catalogs for your word trend analyses?
    • The timeline example you link to might be difficult to emulate, as it seems custom coded. The only tool I currently know of that might produce something similar is MIT’s Chronos timeline.
    • The Robots Reading Vogue project might also offer some inspiration for other ways to visualize a large text corpus.

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