There is a difference between “good” programs and “great” programs that is revealed by how they approach criticism. Good programs may fight the news or dispute the news; great programs embrace the news and use it to their advantage.
BIMS is a great program. Just 6 years ago, the Biology Department launched its three new B.S. programs – the brand new Biomedical Science (BIMS) degree, the brand new Life Sciences degree, and the revised Biology degree. Each year since, we have participated in authentic and investigative annual assessment to identify our weaknesses and form strategies to make improvements. Our willingness to find fault and criticize our own efforts led us to ask “How can we improve our performance for the sake of our students?” Just over a year ago, the accumulation of evidence told us we needed a more extensive and universal Biology Core curriculum for all three majors. And we needed to break down the barriers that prevented our BIMS majors from taking advanced BIOL courses, and vice versa.
We have just received approval for our new curriculum. Here is a look at the BIMS of the future, starting Fall 2015:
Biology Core (courses taken by all BIOL, BIMS, and LSCI majors)
- BIOL 1306/1106. General Biology I/Gen Bio I Lab. Molecules to cells.
- BIOL 1307/1107. General Biology II/Gen Biol II Lab. Animals and plants to ecosystems and evolution.
- BIOL 3460. Genetics
- BIOL 3110. Junior Seminar. Immersion in scientific literature to prepare for senior capstones. Career counseling and entrance exam preparation. Participation in locally-produced diagnostic Junior Exams to help us assess effectiveness of our courses during their first two years.
- Senior capstone experiences. Can be either BIOL 4201/4101 Senior Capstone Experience/Scientific Literature (research with a faculty member, scientific writing to report results), BIOL 4388 Biology Internship (arranged internship with practitioners in science or health professions), or BIOL 4496/4397 Honors Research/Honors Thesis (for those pursuing the added distinction and expectations of Honors research and thesis).
BIMS Program Required Courses
- BIMS 3350 Cell Biology. Return of a course focused on eukaryotic cell anatomy and physiology.
- BIMS 3410 Microbiology.
- BIMS 3430 Human Physiology.
- BIMS 4350/4150 Molecular Biology/Molecular Biology Lab.
BIMS Elective courses.
- Ten hours of elective courses from advanced BIMS and BIOL course offerings.
The Biology and Life Sciences programs have also undergone some tweaks that promise to make them even more effective than their current versions. We are excited about how these changes position us (and our students) for the future!
Recently, our family celebrated the marriage of our older son to a beautiful and talented young lady. When plans were being formed, they surprised us with one aspect of the reception that we could never have predicted – they wanted to square dance. It seems square dancing was featured at an event they attended while in college and the experience was so much fun that they wanted to make it a part of their wedding celebration. As much as we all were skeptical, they were RIGHT! We all had a great time.
I mention this because square dancing requires a few talents and skills that our BIMS program will be needing in the coming year. First, you have to be a good listener and thinker. Second, you have to be light on your feet. As the Caller directs the dancers through some tricky moves, so the BIMS program is going to have to direct its students through some tricky times.
The reason? Two of our BIMS faculty will be on sabbatical during the coming academic year. Dr. Wilson will be out during the fall semester, and Dr. Benoit will be out for the spring. They are working together on a project to develop a microbiology course for nursing majors that can be taught totally online. Wilson will create a lab that is part simulation, part field trips, part “kitchen micro”. Benoit will create over 100 20-minute lectures/activities to teach the content for the lecture portion of the course.
So in the same way that a square dancer has to be a great listener and thinker and light on their feet, the BIMS program is going to have to exhibit those skills as it adapts its course offerings and content to provide all BIMS curriculum over the two short-handed semesters. We have studied the progress of our BIMS majors and have been listening to what students want in the coming year. We have been thinking about appropriate substitutions from departments across campus. And we have started being “light on our feet” as we adapt what we will be doing during the year for our BIMS students.
May our doh-si-doh and promenade get the job done!