This is an exciting time in Biology. Our field is at the forefront of advances that will benefit society in areas as diverse as health and medicine, environmental sustainability, technology development, education, and public policy. Biology students will be leaders in these important areas in the future, so we want to be sure that you be well prepared to step into these roles.

Undergraduate studies in Biology allows students the opportunity to develop a basic understanding of the organization and the processes of life, from the level of molecules and cells through the level of organs and organ systems to the level of populations, species, eco-systems and evolution. The programs offer the mathematical, chemical and physical background necessary to understand biology and to help train students in practical scientific skills associated with each of these areas of study. Students also have the opportunity to begin to specialize in a sub-discipline of biology.

Here are the curriculum goals that we have adopted to prepare 21st century biologists.

Core Concepts for Biological Literacy

  1. Evolution: The diversity of life evolved over time by processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change
  2. Structure and function: Basic units of structure define the function of all living things.
  3. Information flow, exchange, and storage: The growth and behavior of organisms are activated through the expression of genetic  information in context.
  4. Pathways and transformations of energy and matter: Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
  5. Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.

Core Competencies and Disciplinary practice

Knowledge of concepts and the development of competencies form the bases for the practice of any discipline, but particularly in the sciences. All students need to develop the following

  1. Ability to apply the process of science
    • Formulate hypotheses
    • Design experiments with attention to controls
    • Test hypotheses using experiments and observations
    • Interpret and evaluate data
    • Participate in authentic research experiences
  2. Ability to use quantitative reasoning, modeling, and simulation
    • Understand quantitative approaches to biology, including statistics, analysis of dynamic systems, and mathematical modeling
    • Understand how mathematical and computational tools can be used to describe complex living systems
    • Practice using quantitative skills and/or computer modeling to address biological problems
  3. Ability to participate in interdisciplinary science
    • Understand how integrating across levels of biological organization can lead to greater insights into biological processes
    • Understand that other disciplines, including computer science and social science, can inform our understanding of biology
    • Apply concepts, both across biology and outside of biology, that demonstrate interdisciplinary understanding
    • Develop skills for participating in research teams
  4. Ability to effectively collaborate and communicate in the scientific arena
    • Interpret and communicate complex biological concepts
    • Critically evaluate scientific literature and communicate research findings to broad audiences
    • Possess skills in effective communication, including writing, visual interpretation, and oral presentation
  5. Ability to appreciate the feedbacks between science and society
    • Understand the need for biological research to address pressing societal concerns
    • Critically evaluate the impacts of discoveries on society
    • Participate in discussions on the ethical implications of biological research

At a regular meeting on Nov 17, 2011, the Biology Department adopted the above curriculum goals for all undergraduate students. These goals are based on the report called “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A view for the 21st century.”