Science

  •  Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Environmental Science. This course surveys current global environmental issues; introduces students to the basic intellectual tools of environmental science; investigates ways the human relationship to nature has been imagined in literary and philosophical traditions; and examines how tools of scientific and literary analysis, scientific method, and imaginative thinking can clarify what is at stake in environmental issues and environmental citizenship.
  • Astronomy. A tour of the mysteries and inner workings of our solar system and the universe including their formation. What are planets made of? Why do they orbit the sun the way they do? Why do some bizarre moons have oceans, volcanoes, and ice flows? What makes the Earth hospitable for life? Is the Earth a common type of planet or some cosmic quirk? This course will introduce basic physics, chemistry, and math to understand planets, moons, rings, comets, asteroids, atmospheres, and oceans. Understanding other worlds will help us save our own planet and help us understand our place in the universe. (NOTE: Participation in an overnight group excursion to the Shenandoah National Park is a course requirement.) Open to students in good standing who, in consultation with a faculty sponsor, present a proposal with clearly formulated objectives and means of implementation. This course is an introduction to air pollution and the chemistry of earth’s atmosphere. We will focus on the fundamental natural processes controlling trace gas and aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere, and how anthropogenic activity has affected those processes at the local, regional, and global scales. Specific topics include stratospheric ozone depletion, increasing concentrations of green house gases, smog, and changes in the oxidation capacity of the troposphere.
  • Alternative Energy. A study of the current energy debate both in political and economic terms and an exploration of ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels through wind, solar, tidal, hydro, biodiesel, and nuclear energy technologies.
  • Geologic Record of Climate Change. This course will review the geologic record of climate change emphasizing how such knowledge can constrain present-day thinking about (and predictive models of) future climate change. We will cover the entire spectrum of climate variations, from the formation of the Earth’s early atmosophere 4.6 billion years ago to the ice ages to the development of instrumental records.
  • Principles of Paleontology. An introduction to concepts and analytical procedures in paleontology. This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of the information content of the fossil record. We will examine the nature of fossil species, populations, and communities; functional morphology, paleoecology, systematics, and macroevolution. Laboratories emphasize original problem solving and interpretation of paleontological materials and data as well as development of critical thinking and writing skills.
  • Topics in Integrative Biology. Reading and discussion of the literature on particular topics in the field of integrative biology.
  • Issues in Chemistry. This seminar will focus on one or several related issues in society that have a significant bearing on chemistry. Particular topics will differ from course section to course section and from year to year. Representative examples: atmospheric ozone, nuclear waste, solar energy, water, agrichemicals. Students will search information sources, invite expert specialists to speak, prepare oral and written reports.
  • Introduction to Cognitive Science. This course introduces the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science. Lectures and readings will survey research from artificial intelligence, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and neuroscience, and will cover topics such as the nature of knowledge, thinking, remembering, vision, imagery, language, and consciousness. Sections will demonstrate some of the major methodologies.
  • Supervised Independent Study and Research.