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The BS program in biological sciences with a concentration in biology and society focuses on understanding the humanistic and social context of the life sciences, asking how and why a biological problem has been and should be studied. What are the implications of the scientific discoveries? Students explore ways in which policy decisions shape and are shaped by biological research, the legal and bioethical contexts, historical forces that have led is to where we are today, and philosophical meanings and significance of the life sciences in understanding our complex world.
The biology and society curriculum is highly individualized. This unique degree is home to world-class researchers and teachers in diverse fields, including bioscience ethics, history and philosophy of science, science communication, science education, and science policy and governance, all brought together under one program. Students have the opportunity to work with many renowned scholars in independent study and research projects.
Just as the major is highly individualized and spans many different disciplinary fields, the faculty members draw on diverse methods and approaches. Some students work in labs, others carry out qualitative social science research through surveys, still others focus on extensive literature reviews as grounding for further graduate work in the field, and some engage in writing intensive projects centered on developing communication skills. Students can work on campus in research labs and also engage in community projects. Some projects are biomedical, while others are more environmental in focus. We support a wide range of possibilities and like to say that "anything is possible." As long as it is well-designed, rigorous, and high quality.
Most students write the thesis in the senior year, but many start in the junior year developing the foundations. Many take a summer opportunity for research, either through travel or by working with a biomedical, environmental, or others organization in the Valley. Majors take a course BIO 314 in either the sophomore or junior year, where each writes a research prospectus that provides a basis for the thesis.
The Biology and Society Unusual Student Project Fund was established by donors and provides support for "unusual" students and unusual projects. These funds can supplement Barrett funding to support travel for research or to present research results at an unusual meeting.
We also encourage students to consider the 4+1 accelerated BS/MS degree program, which allows some courses to count for both undergrad and grad credit.