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The Role of Theory in Advancing 21st-Century Biology: Catalyzing Transformative Research
It is important to support faculty in efforts to alter courses and curricula in ways that are compatible with the ideas presented in this report. It would be good for undergraduate biology majors of all types and graduate students in all fields of biology to be exposed to many subdisciplines of biology and to thinking across scales of time dimension and complexity. For example, requirements to complete a major in any biology subdiscipline could include a requirement for students to take courses in other biology subdisciplines. Or question-based courses, team taught by biologists from several subdisciplines, could be developed. Courses could show how biology intersects with other sciences (chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, geology, engineering, and social sciences). Courses that explicitly discuss how one’s theoretical and conceptual framework affects what one chooses to observe and what tools one applies guides one’s experimental strategy and helps make sense of one’s results and will allow students to become aware of the integral role that theory plays in the practice of biology.