The Course

Biology 123: Living Systems Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 246kB Oct6 11)

In the Fall of 2009, the Biology Department at Calvin College offered the introductory course, Biology 123 - Living Systems: Global Concepts, Local Connections, in its newly revised curriculum for the first time. The new curriculum was developed in response to changing student needs and national calls to rethink and reform biology education at the undergraduate level. While the revised curriculum still provides students with a strong foundation of biological knowledge, it places much more emphasis on the development of competencies such as integrative problem-solving and quantitative skills, and application of knowledge to relevant societal challenges. These emphases, as well as the student-centered pedagogies employed to engage students and invite them to be active participants in the discovery process are aligned with national reform recommendations , and SENCER ideals and strategies. As such, Biology 123 serves as the foundation for a SENCERized curriculum.
This course introduces students to a breadth foundational biology concepts ranging from ecosystem dynamics to genomics through a breadth of "complex, capacious, often unsolved problems of civic consequence" (see Table 1). The interdisciplinary nature of these societal challenges as well as the diversity of skills and knowledge that will be required to successfully address these problems is highlighted and students are given tools (an introduction to systems thinking and daily opportunities to work in a collaborative setting) to begin to work toward solutions. Through our involvement with GLISTEN, students are also given the opportunity to put knowledge into practice during service learning experiences.