Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Objectives

The Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics includes a laboratory-based program in the natural sciences during the sophomore year, and mathematics electives in the freshman and/or sophomore year. The NS 201 Biology I course fulfills the requirement for any student continuing on in the sciences and needing a first semester course in biology. Students needing to fulfill a mathematics requirement for their major may take one or more of the mathematics courses offered by the division during their freshman or sophomore year. The mathematics courses are in the areas of statistics and calculus. The Division also offers students the opportunity to complete the natural science courses during the summer between their freshman and sophomore years by participating in the CGS Natural Science London Summer Program. The summer program is competitive and standard Study Abroad requirements apply.

Natural Sciences

The one-year program in the Natural Sciences takes students beyond learning the “facts” of science, an approach that is common to most general education or even specialized courses. The two courses engage students in both the process and practice of science and provide a framework allowing them to better understand the natural world. Science, as a human activity, is a search for explanations of natural phenomena using naturalistic philosophy. Our program encourages students to further their understanding of the process of science and to become active participants in investigating and developing scientific explanations for our world.

Our courses emphasize the unifying concepts that undergird the structure of science and the evidence on which scientific views are based. Studying and understanding the implications of these concepts provide the foundation necessary to make informed decisions about the complex problems in our globalized modern world. Studying and applying unifying concepts allows students to approach the study of science with a sophisticated knowledge of its nature and methods and the kinds of problems it can address. Contemporary science is a collaborative activity and both courses stress teamwork and collaboration through group field work, group laboratory experiments, and oral and visual group presentations. The NS 202 course culminates in the Capstone project, a major group activity.

Our approach involves integration among the scientific disciplines, since modern societal and scientific challenges require knowledge of the interrelationships among scientific disciplines. This approach is vital for students, regardless of whether they plan to continue to study specific scientific disciplines or major in non-scientific disciplines. Our world is a scientific world and it is critical that every educated citizen be able to think critically and accurately about scientific information.

Mathematics

The Mathematics program in the Division offers students the opportunity to fulfill the mathematics requirements of their majors while at the College of General Studies. This allows students access to the same high-quality, effective, student-oriented teaching found in the CGS program while fulfilling their University mathematics requirements. Due to the diversity of the mathematical backgrounds of students and varied major program requirements, the courses are taught alongside, but are not part of, the curriculum at CGS. However, since the faculty members teaching the mathematics courses have taught in the program, are members of the College faculty, and know the CGS curriculum, they are able to offer some integration with the other CGS courses. The courses are directly equivalent to mathematics courses offered in the Mathematics Department at CAS. The courses fulfill all or part of the mathematics requirements in many major programs in Arts & Sciences, Questrom, Communication, and Hospitality Administration.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Natural Sciences and Mathematics curriculum will be able to demonstrate:

  1. The ability to communicate information about the natural sciences clearly and effectively, using written, oral, quantitative and visual presentations of data. This includes an ability to integrate one’s own scientific findings with those presented by peers, interpret the data logically, and ask critical questions regarding the remaining gaps in knowledge.
  2. Development of the skills needed to gather, analyze, synthesize, integrate, and document scientific information in a systematic and unbiased manner.
  3. A detailed understanding of the historical processes working in the development of scientific knowledge, as well as the aesthetic and cultural movements that may have shaped and been shaped by the process of gaining scientific knowledge.
  4. An understanding of the scientific process as a “way of knowing” and how this differs from knowledge acquisition in other disciplines. This includes how and why the scientific process is a powerful means of acquiring new knowledge.
  5. The ability to use and understand quantitative methods in the natural sciences including the analysis of data sets, both small and large, with statistical methods.
  6. The ability to integrate scientific knowledge and modes of thinking with that of other disciplines to produce an interdisciplinary and integrative understanding of complex problems.
  7. The ability to do close reading of texts, scientific journal articles, and popular science writing. This is essential in their development as critical thinkers.
  8. The ability to become close observers of the natural world so they can better interpret patterns and processes. This is essential in their development as critical thinkers.
  9. The ability to work together as a team of scientists to analyze data associated with humans and the environment.

Requirements

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the CGS program, and in some cases, through co-curricular activities. College of General Studies students will ordinarily, through coursework in the natural sciences and mathematics, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific Inquiry, Quantitative Reasoning, and some areas of the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by other College of General Studies courses as well as by selecting from a wide range of available courses within and outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

To fulfill the CGS natural sciences requirement, students must complete the following two courses:

  • Sophomore year
    • CGS NS 201 Biology I (4 cr)
    • CGS NS 202 Human Ecology/Global Ecology (4 cr)