Students explore a number of biology topics that are frequently discussed in the media. We begin with an investigation into how to evaluate scientific claims reported in written (e.g. news articles, blogs, social media posts), visual (e.g. YouTube videos, Instagram posts) and audio media (e.g. podcasts). We then explore the topics of genetic modification, GMOs, cloning, and direct-to-consumer home DNA testing kits. Finally, we investigate medical topics including cancer, vaccines and antibiotic resistance. We emphasize critical thinking and reasoning as it applies to acceptance or rejection of scientific claims presented in popular media formats. This course is intended for students not majoring in biology and who would like to learn more about scientific topics portrayed in the media as controversial and under debate.
The course provides an introduction to cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. An understanding of cellular structure and mechanisms, and the properties of biological macromolecules are integrated with a discussion of the flow of genetic information within cells. Examples of how these concepts can be applied to selected areas in modern biology will be discussed. Weekly labs reinforce material from lectures and explore common laboratory techniques and computer-based resources.
A broad overview of genetics, including Mendelian assortment, linkage, chromosomal aberrations, variations in chromosome number, mutation, developmental genetics, quantitative genetics, population genetics, mechanisms of evolution, and phylogenetics.