Expectations Of Our Students

We expect that by graduation, all Macalester Biology students should understand that science is a continual and dynamic process of investigation. All students should appreciate that biological knowledge progresses via the support and rejection of competing hypotheses by the scientific community. Students should understand that these decisions are based on empirical evidence and logical arguments developed through inductive and deductive reasoning. To this end, all our students should become familiar with the historical development of some of the major concepts in biology. In addition, all our students should be able to develop scientifically informed positions on some of the social issues related to the biological topics they have studied.

All biology majors should be able to understand and communicate the major concepts and investigational methods that currently define biology and that they should learn basic laboratory and field techniques used in the various biological subdisciplines. After completing the four required core courses, students should be able to demonstrate their understanding of the central theories and methods in molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, physiology, ecology, phylogenetics, and evolution, and use the vocabulary that embodies this knowledge. Through the laboratory component of the core courses, students should learn to articulate a testable hypothesis and design an effective investigative approach; collect, organize and analyze data using appropriate quantitative tools including statistical and graphical methods; and effectively communicate their ideas orally and in writing using customary scientific formats and styles.

All biology graduates should demonstrate an understanding of theories and specialized research techniques and be able to comprehend and critique primary scientific literature in their area(s) of interest. Upon graduation, students should be well prepared to pursue their interests in a variety of ways, including graduate or professional schools, public service, or entry into the work force.

Finally, we expect all biology graduates to be able to use their knowledge and communication skills to assume a leadership role in applying biological concepts and theories appropriately to investigate and/or solve a variety of problems, both in the area of their specialization and in the broader public sphere.