Biology department revamps programs


The Biological Sciences department has revised both the B.A. in biology and B.S. in biology degrees. The curriculum committee passed revisions to the degrees, as well as the option to earn an emphasis in biodiversity and chemistry. Mary Preuss, assistant professor of arts and sciences, said Webster will offer the revamped degrees and new classes in fall 2012. The department started working on revisions in August 2011.

Both B.A. and B.S. biology majors will be required to take an evolution course.  The biodiversity certificate will be offered to B.A. biology majors only.

In addition to completing the core coursework for the degree, students will also have to take zoology, plant physiology and environmental ethics. Then, the students must also choose two classes from two categories. The first set of classes students can choose from are extreme ecology, biological basis of animal behavior and the environment. The second category includes microbiology and gene expression.

Preuss said she and her colleagues have noticed a growing interest among their students in diversity, sustainability, the environment and ecology, which led them to develop the biodiversity certificate.

“We wanted to offer this emphasis to those students who would like to focus on that track,” Preuss said. “They want to understand the variety and biology of life forms on our planet and how the whole ecosystem fits together. By studying plants, animals and the environment, and different aspects of that, they can hopefully get a better understanding within that emphasis.”

Preuss added the department has tried to direct the B.A. biology degree to be more broad and flexible for students who want to take classes outside the sciences. The B.S. biology degree, Preuss said, will be more restrictive and specific for students who are preparing for medical or graduate school.

Currently, the department offers “University Physics” which is a calculus-based course. For the new B.A. degree, students will be required to take a new course called “College Physics,” which is algebra based.

With the new B.S. biology degree, chemistry will be offered as an emphasis.

“Because our students take a lot of chemistry, we wanted to have that emphasis reflect a heavy load of chemistry that they’re taking,” Preuss said.

Preuss added the change in the curriculums will help further the mission of Webster to help create better global citizens.

“We’re trying to increase the awareness of the need for sustainability of our ecosystem and preservation or conservation of biodiversity. That was part of our goal in this process,” Preuss said.

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