all levels of biological organization (e.g., in signal transduction cascades, genetic regulatory circuits, and ecosystems) could be taught making extensive use of quantitative models.
The fourth potential curriculum is intended for students who are especially interested in evolution, ecology, and systematics. It assumes students enter already having taken calculus and calls for specific courses in biostatistics and computer science, essential tools for the study of evolution. Students focusing on evolution may go on to pursue many types of activities, ranging from field research to clinical research. As discussed earlier, the connections between different types of biology are growing stronger just as the connections between different sciences are growing.
Biology is an increasingly complex science that is truly an integrative discipline in which many aspects of mathematics and physical science converge to address biological issues. For biology majors to receive an optimal education, the content of their curriculum must be updated to address the interdisciplinary nature of the field. At many institutions, this will mean changes in the course offerings so that those who will become future biomedical researchers learn more mathematics and more physical and information sciences than is currently required. It continues to make sense for biology majors to take introductory courses in chemistry and physics and to enroll in courses in the mathematics department. However, for this practice to be most useful, the students must learn how to relate the material they learn in those courses to biology and how to relate the material they learn in biology courses to chemistry and physics. Perhaps of equal importance, students majoring in mathematics and physical sciences should learn how to relate the material they learn to issues of biology.
The recommendations of this report will not be achieved solely by transforming an undergraduate’s schedule into one of the curricular examples shown above. However, much can be accomplished without altering the current list of course titles. The content of the courses must change to incorporate the concepts presented in the first half of this chapter. Different schools will likely create different sets of courses. Incorporating these themes into biology courses and ensuring that they are covered in other science courses taken by biologists will greatly benefit the education of biology majors, as well as, the committee believes, other undergraduates who are enrolled in these courses.