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Mission and Learning Goals for Natural Sciences

The Mission of the Department of Natural Sciences serves and supports Fordham University's Mission Statement, most especially through our emphasis on "the discovery of Wisdom and the transmission of Learning" through research and through "undergraduate education of the highest quality."

The Department of Natural Sciences is the sole provider of core physical science courses and the main provider of core life sciences courses that serve all of FCLC. Through these courses, in accord with Fordham's Mission, our department endeavors to "foster habits of careful observation, critical thinking, and moral reflection" in all FCLC students. Students completing these core courses should have gained understanding of the basic science principles that inform some of the most contentious and important discussions of the day (global warming and human genetic engineering, for example), and of the future. Our department also contributes to the core curriculum through our General Biology and Concepts Biology courses (both year-long, including lecture and lab). These courses, one designed for Natural Science majors and one for Psychology and Integrative Neuroscience Majors, fulfill the science requirements and the EP1 requirement of the core.

The Natural Sciences major prepares students for careers in the pre-health professions (e.g. human and veterinary medicine, dentistry, and public health), science education, and research in academia and industry. Many of our courses (e.g. genetics, global ecology, immunology) deal explicitly with important ethical issues. Toward that end, our students gain skills in mathematical reasoning (including in calculus and statistics), and in the design and interpretation of experiments, in scientific information literacy, and in scientific communication (oral and written). Our students also gain a strong foundation in chemistry, physics and biology along with more advanced study in several scientific disciplines in their upper level electives. In addition, all Natural Science majors must take the course Science, Technology, and Society, in which they study research ethics and biomedical ethics. Although the Natural Sciences major is interdisciplinary, by carrying out original research and selecting electives within a particular area, students have the option of concentrating in chemical sciences, organismal biology, or cell and molecular biology.

The Natural Sciences department contributes a year-long interdisciplinary course (lecture and lab) to the FCLC honors program. Through our course offerings and research opportunities, we also contribute to the Integrative Neurosciences program, the Environmental Sciences major, the Bioethics minor, and the Bioinformatics minor.

Research is central to the department's educational Mission. Faculty in the Department of Natural Sciences share the belief that our research has two equally important aims: contributing important new scientific knowledge and training and inspiring new scientists. Consequently, we consider student-mentoring in the laboratory to be an essential component of teaching, research, and service for our faculty. Students carrying out independent research under the guidance of faculty learn valuable laboratory skills. More than that, they learn what it means to participate in the science scholarship, to design and interpret original experiments, and to present their findings orally and in writing.

Student advising is also a key component of the culture of the Department of Natural Sciences. In addition to freshman advising (generally of natural sciences majors and students studying in the pre-health program), and advising of upper-class students in the major and in the programs to which we contribute, faculty in our department counsel our students in their career development in settings both formal (in pre-health committee meetings) and informal (during office hours).

Assessment

Our department assesses our core courses as well as the foundational and elective courses for our major and the natural sciences program. We make use of peer observations, syllabi, exams, assignments, and other materials provided by instructors and students in our assessment process to evaluate the content and effectiveness of our courses.