2012-13 Catalog

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Scientific Inquiry

The faculty of the Scientific Inquiry (SI) planning unit is committed to the ideal of science education in the context of liberal arts education. We help students—whatever their primary interests may be—understand the wonders of nature as well as science as a force in our technological society.

Because science and technology are central to our world, citizens must be scientifically literate in order to participate intelligently in a democratic society. At the same time, scientists should understand the social implications and consequences of their work. Thus, our study of science itself is combined with the study of the history and philosophy of science, bioethics, and public policy.

Some programs in this planning unit will allow students to learn basic science as part of their liberal arts education. Others help students prepare for careers in science, medicine, or technology. However, all of our offerings emphasize the application of theory to practice. Students will apply scientific principles as they learn to solve real-world problems.

By engaging in laboratory and group problem-solving exercises, students will learn to think like scientists—to develop hypotheses and design experiments, to collect data and analyze them within a theoretical framework, and to apply these results to new situations.

Our students have unique opportunities to conduct scientific research using high-quality instruments, such as a scanning electron microscope and a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine. In addition, they can use some of the best modern software available. Students also read current scientific journal articles and learn to write technical reports and papers.

Whether a freshman or a more advanced student, all students can find a scientific program that fits their academic plan. Some choose to follow a pathway that emphasizes a particular science, while others may simply want to explore the wonder and application of science in a broader context. There are programs that offer beginning, intermediate and advanced work in all the major scientific disciplines. The following programs with significant content in each of the main scientific disciplines are usually offered either every year or in alternate years:

Biology Chemistry Computer Science
Foundations of Health Science
Introduction to Natural Science
Molecule to Organism
Atoms, Molecules and Reactions
Environmental Analysis
Foundations of Health Science
Introduction to Natural Science
Matter and Motion
Molecule to Organism
Algebra to Algorithms
Computability and Language Theory
Computer Science Foundations
Data and Information
Student Originated Software
Mathmatics Physics
Algebra to Algorithms
Computer Science Foundations
Data and Information
Mathematical Systems
Matter and Motion
Meaning, Math and Motion
Methods of Mathematical Physics
Atoms, Molecules and Reactions
Energy Systems
Introduction to Natural Science
Matter and Motion
Meaning, Math and Motion
Methods of Mathematical Physics

We also create new offerings on a regular basis. Refer to the individual program descriptions for more details about these programs and others not listed above.

Advanced students have many opportunities to do scientific research as part of a faculty research program. Research students have presented their work at scientific meetings and have become authors on technical papers. Scientific Inquiry students have an excellent record of success in graduate and professional schools, as well as working in a variety of scientific and technical fields. The possibilities are limited only by your energy and ambition.