[ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology ~ Thanks!

2012-06-06 Thread Johnson, David R
Hello Everyone ,

I want to thank all the folks who responded to my question regarding how best 
to design a non-major's biology course. I received a total of 52 responses 
(both via Ecolog but also direct to my inbox) which included many thoughtful 
comments on general approaches to non-majors education, text and book 
recommendations, as well as a few syllabi and course outlines. I am very 
grateful for all the insight and assistance! It is great to personally see the 
degree of community that exists among ecologists!

Rather than wade back through the discussion summarizing what was said, I 
thought I'd simply provide a list of recommended textbooks and other material I 
derived from the various posts:


* Vision and Change (visionandchange.org)

*  Botany of Desire by Pollen

* Biology: Concepts and Investigations by Hoefnagels

*  Guns, Germs and Steel by Diamond

* Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen

* Restoring Nature: Perspectives from the Social Sciences and 
Humanities by Gobster

* Cartoon Guide To The Environment

* The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology

* The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

* Campbell Essential Biology by Simon, Reece and Dickey

* Campbell's Biology: Concepts and Connections

* The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

* Nature Out of Place: Biological Invasions in the Global Age by Van 
Driesche and Van Driesche

* Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity by 
Chivian  Bernstein

* Human Genetics from Brooks/Cole)

*  What is Life by Jay Phelan

* Biology for A Changing World by Michele Shuster

* The Lives of a Cell by Thomas

* Future of Life by Wilson

* Four Fish by Greenberg
Helpful websites:

* Action Bioscience: http://www.actionbioscience.org/

* Evolution:  http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

* Why science is important in the first place: 
http://whyscience.co.uk/the-film/

* More evolution: http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/, 
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02

* On the cutting edge: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/index.html

* Environmental Health News: 
http://newsletters.environmentalhealthnews.org
Other suggested media:

* Planet Earth dvd series
Thanks again, the discussion was very helpful and I'm certainly planning on 
utilizing much of the approach so thoughtfully sent my way!
Cheers,

David

David R. Johnson PhD.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Systems Ecology Lab
University of Texas at El Paso
drjohns...@utep.edumailto:drjohns...@utep.edu


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-29 Thread Carrie DeJaco
I have taught my non-majors bio course for the past several years covering 
subjects that they are likely to encounter in life and, in the course of that, 
I manage to cover a little bit of most aspects of biology while also showing 
the students how it is relevant to their life and why it is important for them 
to learn.  To understand cancer, for example, one must understand cell 
division, DNA replication and mutations, various environmental carcinogens, how 
things are inherited, etc..  They will likely encounter the term 'stem cells', 
so that leads us into cell specialization and differentiation, tissues, organs, 
embryonic and fetal development.  Allergies, why and how we are sick and how 
our bodies respond to that.  Nutrition-- why your body needs things like fat, 
what cholesterol is and how it relates to cardiovascular disease.  What's an 
aneurism, and a stroke, and an embolism.  Climate change and the observed and 
expected physical and phenological changes associated with it, and how those 
things are going to affect people near and far from us.  Things like colony 
collapse disorder, pollination, the importance of biodiversity, the impacts of 
invasive species...  All of these things intertwine in some way or another but 
if you can relate it back to how it is relevant to the students, they can see 
why even 'boring' concepts like mitosis are important to understand.  I have 
gotten a good deal of positive feedback on this approach from students over the 
years, even and especially from students who came into my class 'hating' or 
'scared of' science.

I know this is the last science class my students will ever take.  I hope to 
teach them how science works and a little bit about most things they will 
encounter so they will feel comfortable with science and have enough 
recognition of enough terms that they will be able to ask questions and find 
more information when they need to.  


Carrie DeJaco
Associate Professor of Biology
Queens University of Charlotte
Charlotte, NC.  


On May 28, 2012, at 6:57 PM, David L. McNeely wrote:

 June _Scientific American_ has an excellent article that very effectively 
 relates microbiology to the lives of students.  It considers the ecology of 
 human symbiotic microbes.  More microbiology of this kind, and less 
 memorization of how microbial cells metabolize could be quite meaningful in a 
 non-majors (or for that matter, a majors) biology course.   David McNeely
 
  CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote: 
 Instead of addressing
 actual curriculum
 (except to say I
 agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of 
 non-biologists),
 I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists 
 and
 current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
 but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
 to take advantage of your local museum.
 
 
 At the New
 York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
 research scientists are expected to engage in educational
 outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
 toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts 
 like
 evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as 
 Cooking
 the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a 
 single
 food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its 
 evolutionary
 and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
 people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage the
 public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
 specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
 skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
 seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
 museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
 hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
 some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
 local/regional examples.  
 
 Take your lab
 sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
 museum research and collections.  Not all
 museums will be able to accommodate you, but ask to see what materials are
 collected and why - and hear it from the people who do that full-time.
 Such a tour could have something for everyone: herbarium, beetling tank
 for cleaning bones, bird-mounting room, DNA lab, fossils being prepared, and 
 so
 on.  The anthropology collections may offer insights into human
 AP and the media liaisons at larger institutions might talk about science
 communication.  In a single visit you could discuss plant evolution from
 19th C.
 fossil collection to emerging molecular techniques, and see examples of 
 both. 
 Because so many museums formed as natural history emerged as a topic of 
 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-29 Thread Cynthia Ross
I am considering teaching science as a career option.  I want children (and 
adults) to be as excited about science as I am so this discussion interests me 
greatly.  I agree with Ms. Dejaco's approach of covering the important basics, 
filling in with some detail, and illustrating relevance.  This certainly worked 
for me as a student, especially in cell bio and genetics.  An exciting subject 
can be dry as toast if it is presented that way and vice versa.  It also makes 
all the difference having the students participate in their lessons through 
discussion and activities rather than just being taught at.  

Cheers,
Cynthia

On May 28, 2012, at 9:37 PM, Carrie DeJaco wrote:

 I have taught my non-majors bio course for the past several years covering 
 subjects that they are likely to encounter in life and, in the course of 
 that, I manage to cover a little bit of most aspects of biology while also 
 showing the students how it is relevant to their life and why it is important 
 for them to learn.  To understand cancer, for example, one must understand 
 cell division, DNA replication and mutations, various environmental 
 carcinogens, how things are inherited, etc..  They will likely encounter the 
 term 'stem cells', so that leads us into cell specialization and 
 differentiation, tissues, organs, embryonic and fetal development.  
 Allergies, why and how we are sick and how our bodies respond to that.  
 Nutrition-- why your body needs things like fat, what cholesterol is and how 
 it relates to cardiovascular disease.  What's an aneurism, and a stroke, and 
 an embolism.  Climate change and the observed and expected physical and 
 phenological changes associated with it, and how those things are going to 
 affect people near and far from us.  Things like colony collapse disorder, 
 pollination, the importance of biodiversity, the impacts of invasive 
 species...  All of these things intertwine in some way or another but if you 
 can relate it back to how it is relevant to the students, they can see why 
 even 'boring' concepts like mitosis are important to understand.  I have 
 gotten a good deal of positive feedback on this approach from students over 
 the years, even and especially from students who came into my class 'hating' 
 or 'scared of' science.
 
 I know this is the last science class my students will ever take.  I hope to 
 teach them how science works and a little bit about most things they will 
 encounter so they will feel comfortable with science and have enough 
 recognition of enough terms that they will be able to ask questions and find 
 more information when they need to.  
 
 
 Carrie DeJaco
 Associate Professor of Biology
 Queens University of Charlotte
 Charlotte, NC.  
 
 
 On May 28, 2012, at 6:57 PM, David L. McNeely wrote:
 
 June _Scientific American_ has an excellent article that very effectively 
 relates microbiology to the lives of students.  It considers the ecology of 
 human symbiotic microbes.  More microbiology of this kind, and less 
 memorization of how microbial cells metabolize could be quite meaningful in 
 a non-majors (or for that matter, a majors) biology course.   David McNeely
 
  CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote: 
 Instead of addressing
 actual curriculum
 (except to say I
 agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of 
 non-biologists),
 I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists 
 and
 current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
 but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
 to take advantage of your local museum.
 
 
 At the New
 York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
 research scientists are expected to engage in educational
 outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
 toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts 
 like
 evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as 
 Cooking
 the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a 
 single
 food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its 
 evolutionary
 and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
 people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage 
 the
 public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
 specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
 skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
 seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
 museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
 hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
 some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
 local/regional examples.  
 
 Take your lab
 sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-29 Thread Erica Marx (Van Etten)
Hi David,

I teach an online non-majors biology course and have been receiving very
positive feedback from the students about how much they learn and their
engagement with the material. My main strategies are:

1. Create a few larger assignments that build upon each other and for which
the students choose their own research topics.

2. Have the students teach as much as possible (they post 5-min videos 
reports on their research, students are assigned to
review/comment/contribute in response to their presentations).

3. Focus my own teaching on core concepts that unify the field of biology
(scientific method, genetics  evolution for my course) rather than cover
many topics.

4. Select 8-10 chapters in a non-majors biology textbook to serve as the
reference foundation  provide structure to the course (1 quiz/week type
structure).

For my course, the core assignments result in the students creating an
extensive family pedigree and researching human traits with genetic
influence (they almost always choose to research topics related to their
own family health history, which can be very powerful for them).

For an ecology-based course, an equivalent approach might be to revolve the
work around them developing a field journal of a particular place.  I have
done this with non-majors as well, and they always get a lot out of it.
 Many have never sat quietly in a natural place for 5 minutes, and the
experience can be very powerful and meaningful.

For example, you could create assignments where the students do various
activities, take samples, make observations etc. all at their research
site and do research on various topics related to their site as you work
through the different topics in class.  Done well, by the end of course,
each student will have an in depth understanding of how all these ecology 
biology topics fit together, and hopefully a meaningful relationship with
one place on the earth (and certainly a memorable course!).

Feel free to contact me off list if you want to chat more about any of
 these ideas, share resources etc.

Erica Marx
Department of Biology
Ithaca College
607-279-6402


On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 7:57 PM, Cynthia Ross cyn_r...@sbcglobal.netwrote:

 -- Information from the mail header
 ---
 Sender:   Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
  ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Poster:   Cynthia Ross cyn_r...@sbcglobal.net
 Subject:  Re: Non-Majors Biology

 ---

 I am considering teaching science as a career option.  I want children =
 (and adults) to be as excited about science as I am so this discussion =
 interests me greatly.  I agree with Ms. Dejaco's approach of covering =
 the important basics, filling in with some detail, and illustrating =
 relevance.  This certainly worked for me as a student, especially in =
 cell bio and genetics.  An exciting subject can be dry as toast if it is =
 presented that way and vice versa.  It also makes all the difference =
 having the students participate in their lessons through discussion and =
 activities rather than just being taught at. =20

 Cheers,
 Cynthia

 On May 28, 2012, at 9:37 PM, Carrie DeJaco wrote:

  I have taught my non-majors bio course for the past several years =
 covering subjects that they are likely to encounter in life and, in the =
 course of that, I manage to cover a little bit of most aspects of =
 biology while also showing the students how it is relevant to their life =
 and why it is important for them to learn.  To understand cancer, for =
 example, one must understand cell division, DNA replication and =
 mutations, various environmental carcinogens, how things are inherited, =
 etc..  They will likely encounter the term 'stem cells', so that leads =
 us into cell specialization and differentiation, tissues, organs, =
 embryonic and fetal development.  Allergies, why and how we are sick =
 and how our bodies respond to that.  Nutrition-- why your body needs =
 things like fat, what cholesterol is and how it relates to =
 cardiovascular disease.  What's an aneurism, and a stroke, and an =
 embolism.  Climate change and the observed and expected physical and =
 phenological changes associated with it, and how those things are going =
 to affect people near and far from us.  Things like colony collapse =
 disorder, pollination, the importance of biodiversity, the impacts of =
 invasive species...  All of these things intertwine in some way or =
 another but if you can relate it back to how it is relevant to the =
 students, they can see why even 'boring' concepts like mitosis are =
 important to understand.  I have gotten a good deal of positive feedback =
 on this approach from students over the years, even and especially from =
 students who came into my class 'hating' or 'scared of' science.
 =20
  I know this is the last science class my students will ever take.  I =
 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Tamara Cushing
Forestry has undergraduate accreditation

Tammy

Tamara L. Cushing, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Forest Management and Economics
Clemson University


From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news 
[ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Jane Shevtsov [jane@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2012 11:31 PM
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

What disciplines other than engineering have departmental
accreditation at the undergraduate level?

Jane

On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM, malcolm McCallum
malcolm.mccal...@herpconbio.org wrote:
 The problem with biology education today is that there are:
 1) no standards for what the major is
 2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise

 Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
 follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
 biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.

 Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations' folly.
 Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
 legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
 lot about money and little about quality or students.

 There are more of those than we care to admit.

 Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
 intro to bio class.
 I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
 they going to learn it, English?
 Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.

 Malcolm

 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
 resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, 
 and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
 Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
 education today.

 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career 
 in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to 
 make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the real 
 value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal with 
 cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to the 
 last three chapters.

 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really 
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that 
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of 
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic 
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and 
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to 
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such 
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as 
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and 
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global 
 climate change, fracking, etc.

 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses 
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the 
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med 
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes 
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught 
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.

 Cheers,

 BILL


 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:

 David,

 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. 
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of 
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and 
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three 
 chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations  
 ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will 
 have to add extra material to recreate those last topics.

 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and 
 identifying biomes.

 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02

 I used those as base for the lab activities.

 Hope this helps.

 Helena



 Helena Puche, Ph. D.

 Adjunct Assistant Professor

 University of Illinois at Chicago


 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066

 845 West Taylor Street

 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread karen golinski
  Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
  To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
  Date: Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:49 PM
 
  Greetings,
 
  I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors
 in the fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize
 the course at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish
 as long as I hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this
 is certainly doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to
 present. The course is meant to present the science of contemporary issues
 that may be important and/or interesting to the non-science student rather
 than a broad survey course encompassing all of biology. There is another
 such survey course with a set syllabus that I am not teaching, and there
 are two other sections of contemporary biology that are focusing on
 genetics. I would like to focus on the many ecological issues that both
 affect and are affected by humans. My struggle involves the fact that this
 may be the only (or last) biology these students get before we cast them
 out into the world.
  So I want to be sure and cover all my bases.
 
  I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative
 merit of including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on
 fewer but perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students
 will most likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to
 memorize the structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other
 hand, would I be cheating them somehow by not providing enough information
 to them for making informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area
 of expertise, such as developmental biology and stem cells?
 
  The other question I have involves textbooks. Is anyone aware of a
 text (or perhaps pop-science books) designed for the non-science major that
 focuses on ecology, in particular the involvement of humans in ecological
 systems? I haven't been able to find something I like and am looking for
 recommendations.
 
  Thanks and I'll circulate a summary response if/when the discussion
 runs its course.
 
  Cheers,
 
  David
 
  David R. Johnson PhD.
  Postdoctoral Research Associate
  Systems Ecology Lab
  University of Texas at El Paso
  drjohns...@utep.edu
 
  P.S. Please Like our new Facebook page at
 http://www.facebook.com/HiltonPond for timely updates on nature topics.
 
  =
 
  RESEARCH PROGRAM
  c/o BILL HILTON JR. Executive Director
  Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
  1432 DeVinney Road, York, South Carolina 29745 USA
  office  cell (803) 684-5852
  fax (803) 684-0255
 
  Please visit our web sites (courtesy of Comporium.net):
  Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History at
 http://www.hiltonpond.org
  Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project at
 http://www.rubythroat.org
 
  ==
 
 
 
  --
  Malcolm L. McCallum
  Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  School of Biological Sciences
  University of Missouri at Kansas City
 
  Managing Editor,
  Herpetological Conservation and Biology
 
  Peer pressure is designed to contain anyone with a sense of drive -
  Allan Nation
 
  1880's: There's lots of good fish in the sea  W.S. Gilbert
  1990's:  Many fish stocks depleted due to overfishing, habitat loss,
  and pollution.
  2000:  Marine reserves, ecosystem restoration, and pollution reduction
MAY help restore populations.
  2022: Soylent Green is People!
 
  The Seven Blunders of the World (Mohandas Gandhi)
  Wealth w/o work
  Pleasure w/o conscience
  Knowledge w/o character
  Commerce w/o morality
  Science w/o humanity
  Worship w/o sacrifice
  Politics w/o principle
 
  Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any
  attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may
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  destroy all copies of the original message.



 --
 -
 Jane Shevtsov, Ph.D.
 Mathematical Biology Curriculum Writer, UCLA
 co-founder, www.worldbeyondborders.org

 In the long run, education intended to produce a molecular
 geneticist, a systems ecologist, or an immunologist is inferior, both
 for the individual and for society, than that intended to produce a
 broadly educated person who has also written a dissertation. --John
 Janovy, Jr., On Becoming a Biologist




-- 
G. Karen Golinski, PhD


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread CHELSEA LYNN TEALE
Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts like
evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as Cooking
the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a single
food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its evolutionary
and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage the
public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
local/regional examples.  

Take your lab
sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
museum research and collections.  Not all
museums will be able to accommodate you, but ask to see what materials are
collected and why - and hear it from the people who do that full-time.
 Such a tour could have something for everyone: herbarium, beetling tank
for cleaning bones, bird-mounting room, DNA lab, fossils being prepared, and so
on.  The anthropology collections may offer insights into human
AP and the media liaisons at larger institutions might talk about science
communication.  In a single visit you could discuss plant evolution from
19th C.
fossil collection to emerging molecular techniques, and see examples of both. 
Because so many museums formed as natural history emerged as a topic of study,
they can present biology within its historical context and from a holistic
perspective with enough ooh and aah moments to be digestible for
non-majors.  Even if the
museum does not have an active research program, their collections are still
managed by knowledgeable staff who will at least try to convince the most
anti-biology
student that a drawer of pine cones has value.  Most museum staff are
happy to do this if given sufficient advance notice and a list of topics to
touch on.  Some are featured in newspapers summarizing a project that was
recently published, so you could read the article, discuss the publication,
then meet the person and see where the magic
happened!
 
The more our state museums (and
the like) are able to demonstrate their utility to current administrators and
future voters, the better.  Use these resources as they were intended: for
the public benefit.
















Chelsea Teale
PhD Candidate, Geography
The
Pennsylvania State University
NYS Museum Research 
Collections


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Borrett, Stuart
I believe chemistry has undergraduate accreditation requirements from acs. 

Stuart

---
Stuart Borrett
http://people.UNCW.edu/borretts


On May 28, 2012, at 12:24 AM, Jane Shevtsov jane@gmail.com wrote:

 What disciplines other than engineering have departmental
 accreditation at the undergraduate level?
 
 Jane
 
 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM, malcolm McCallum
 malcolm.mccal...@herpconbio.org wrote:
 The problem with biology education today is that there are:
 1) no standards for what the major is
 2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise
 
 Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
 follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
 biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.
 
 Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations' folly.
 Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
 legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
 lot about money and little about quality or students.
 
 There are more of those than we care to admit.
 
 Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
 intro to bio class.
 I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
 they going to learn it, English?
 Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.
 
 Malcolm
 
 On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
 resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, 
 and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
 Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
 education today.
 
 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career 
 in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to 
 make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the 
 real value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal 
 with cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to 
 the last three chapters.
 
 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really 
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that 
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of 
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic 
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and 
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to 
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such 
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as 
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and 
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global 
 climate change, fracking, etc.
 
 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses 
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the 
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med 
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes 
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught 
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.
 
 Cheers,
 
 BILL
 
 
 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:
 
 David,
 
 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. 
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of 
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and 
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three 
 chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations  
 ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will 
 have to add extra material to recreate those last topics.
 
 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and 
 identifying biomes.
 
 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02
 
 I used those as base for the lab activities.
 
 Hope this helps.
 
 Helena
 
 
 
 Helena Puche, Ph. D.
 
 Adjunct Assistant Professor
 
 University of Illinois at Chicago
 
 
 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066
 
 845 West Taylor Street
 
 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu
 
 
 
 --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:
 
 From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
 Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
 To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Date

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread David Inouye
I've had good feedback from students in my ecology and conservation 
biology classes about spending the first few minutes of each class on 
some story in the news that relates to the class.  Comments from the 
students suggested that they appreciated my effort to show them how 
the material they were learning related to life outside the classroom.


Environmental Health News, which is put out daily and you can get in 
an e-mail message, is one good source for such stories.  Here's a 
link to today's issue:
http://newsletters.environmentalhealthnews.org/read/archive?id=5587mid=42231e=inouye%40umd%2eedux=8b49b2cbhttp://newsletters.environmentalhealthnews.org/read/archive?id=5587mid=42231e=inouye%40umd%2eedux=8b49b2cb 



David Inouye 


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Francisco Borrero
Hi all,

I have read this listserv for a good while but have never wrote until now.

I already deleted several of the previous emails so I don¹t remember who
said what. However. I want to make two points:

1- Somebody suggested that a list of suggested topics were more
appropriate in an Environmental Science class than as part of a Intro.
Biology for non-majors.
I would like to suggest that perhaps something more akin to a Intro.
Environmental Science or Biology and Society, or something like that,
may be much more valuable if a group is to have a single (never
re-visited) biology class, than something more like a classic General
Biology class. Please note that I am not referring to pre-meds or the
like, which after all are a type of biological scientists. I am talking
about mechanical engineers, architects, and business people.
I sincerely believe that despite one's best intentions, the great majority
of non-major attendees of the General Biology-like class will find it
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off and learn little from it. Alternatively,
true passionate interest could be elicited from a class for at least some
topics that are much more relevant to who the students are, where they are
in their life, and what they are likely to do from then on. In fact, some
may even find true relevance between (some of) such topics and what they
are likely to do in their chosen careers.
After all, even if at a very basic level, all students would have had a
high school introduction to what DNA is, why is important, a little bit of
the history of biological and ecological thought, a cursory examination of
the types of living things, etc. Why bore them again with the topics they
have chosen not to study (by virtue of their having chosen a
non-biological major)?

Thus, perhaps a class that tries to quickly survey some major pillar
topics, without going into great detail, and then tackles current issues
on environmental quality, human impacts, population growth and resource
use, even of the relationship of the water cycle and human activities on
their effects on modifying ecosystems eliciting water and food shortages,
globally important or emerging diseases, and other topics that
non-biologists are likely to continue hearing about in their non-biologist
lives. I realize some of these topics may be though to be more relevant in
Environmental Sciences of even Earth Sciences, but so what... They impact
more the biology as perceived by non-biologists than other, purely
biological topics. This is the type of stuff we need non-scientists to
know, since after all, they will be making decisions and building things
that affect everybody else.

2- Chelsea Teale makes an excellent point - Better use can be made of
museum, nature centers and similar institutions. Beyond what they do as
depositories of natural and cultural values, and centers for research that
interests the naturalists (myself included), a major role they can play is
that of serving as resources for non-traditional education (i.e,
different that typical classroom stuff). The use of these resources for
age-groups beyond children is incredibly limited. I believe that some
creative thinking and putting into practice could enrich some adult
programs such as those of college non-biology-majors biology classes.

Cheers, Francisco.

 
Francisco J. Borrero, Ph.D.
Research Associate  Adjunct Curator of Mollusks
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Geier Research  Collections Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45203





On 5/28/12 9:45 AM, CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote:

Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of
non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus
scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to
them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8
colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures
(geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating
concepts like
evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as
Cooking
the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a
single
food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its
evolutionary
and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage
the
public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
 Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have 

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Warren W. Aney
The course-defining criteria should be: What do you want the students to
become because they took your course and what do you want them to do because
of what they became?  
As Francisco says, ...true passionate interest could be elicited from a
class for at least some topics that are much more relevant to who the
students are, where they are in their life, and what they are likely to do
from then on.  

Warren W. Aney
Senior Wildlife Ecologist
Tigard, Oregon

-Original Message-
From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
[mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Francisco Borrero
Sent: Monday, 28 May, 2012 08:06
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

Hi all,

I have read this listserv for a good while but have never wrote until now.

I already deleted several of the previous emails so I don¹t remember who
said what. However. I want to make two points:

1- Somebody suggested that a list of suggested topics were more
appropriate in an Environmental Science class than as part of a Intro.
Biology for non-majors.
I would like to suggest that perhaps something more akin to a Intro.
Environmental Science or Biology and Society, or something like that,
may be much more valuable if a group is to have a single (never
re-visited) biology class, than something more like a classic General
Biology class. Please note that I am not referring to pre-meds or the
like, which after all are a type of biological scientists. I am talking
about mechanical engineers, architects, and business people.
I sincerely believe that despite one's best intentions, the great majority
of non-major attendees of the General Biology-like class will find it
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off and learn little from it. Alternatively,
true passionate interest could be elicited from a class for at least some
topics that are much more relevant to who the students are, where they are
in their life, and what they are likely to do from then on. In fact, some
may even find true relevance between (some of) such topics and what they
are likely to do in their chosen careers.
After all, even if at a very basic level, all students would have had a
high school introduction to what DNA is, why is important, a little bit of
the history of biological and ecological thought, a cursory examination of
the types of living things, etc. Why bore them again with the topics they
have chosen not to study (by virtue of their having chosen a
non-biological major)?

Thus, perhaps a class that tries to quickly survey some major pillar
topics, without going into great detail, and then tackles current issues
on environmental quality, human impacts, population growth and resource
use, even of the relationship of the water cycle and human activities on
their effects on modifying ecosystems eliciting water and food shortages,
globally important or emerging diseases, and other topics that
non-biologists are likely to continue hearing about in their non-biologist
lives. I realize some of these topics may be though to be more relevant in
Environmental Sciences of even Earth Sciences, but so what... They impact
more the biology as perceived by non-biologists than other, purely
biological topics. This is the type of stuff we need non-scientists to
know, since after all, they will be making decisions and building things
that affect everybody else.

2- Chelsea Teale makes an excellent point - Better use can be made of
museum, nature centers and similar institutions. Beyond what they do as
depositories of natural and cultural values, and centers for research that
interests the naturalists (myself included), a major role they can play is
that of serving as resources for non-traditional education (i.e,
different that typical classroom stuff). The use of these resources for
age-groups beyond children is incredibly limited. I believe that some
creative thinking and putting into practice could enrich some adult
programs such as those of college non-biology-majors biology classes.

Cheers, Francisco.

 
Francisco J. Borrero, Ph.D.
Research Associate  Adjunct Curator of Mollusks
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Geier Research  Collections Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45203





On 5/28/12 9:45 AM, CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote:

Instead of addressing
actual curriculum
(except to say I
agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of
non-biologists),
I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus
scientists and
current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to
them
but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
to take advantage of your local museum.


At the New
York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8
colleges/universities -
research scientists are expected to engage in educational
outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures
(geared
toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread Hamazaki, Hamachan (DFG)
This subject all boils down to a simple question Why do I have to study (any) 
subjects that are boring, irrelevant, a turn-off, and learn little from them?  
 That's what every school age children ask their parents and educators.   Now, 
educators are asking Why do I have to teach subjects that are boring, 
irrelevant, and a turn-off to students?   

Interestingly, in this case ecologists are arguing on worth of teaching 
subjects of biology that are not of their strong interests (say, cell-DNA).   I 
am sure that a professor of cell-DNA teaching non-major biology would question 
what's the worth of teaching ecology for non-biology majors?Then, this 
begs a question, what subjects of ecology (among us ecologists) think should 
not be taught to non-biology major's class because the subjects are, say  
boring, irrelevant, a turn-off, and learn little from them?  

Toshihide Hamachan Hamazaki, 濱崎俊秀PhD
Alaska Department of Fish and Game: アラスカ州漁業野生動物課
Division of Commercial Fisheries: 商業漁業部
333 Raspberry Rd.  Anchorage, AK 99518
Phone:  (907)267-2158
Cell:  (907)440-9934


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-28 Thread David L. McNeely
June _Scientific American_ has an excellent article that very effectively 
relates microbiology to the lives of students.  It considers the ecology of 
human symbiotic microbes.  More microbiology of this kind, and less 
memorization of how microbial cells metabolize could be quite meaningful in a 
non-majors (or for that matter, a majors) biology course.   David McNeely

 CHELSEA LYNN TEALE clt...@psu.edu wrote: 
 Instead of addressing
 actual curriculum
 (except to say I
 agree cellular/microbiology is a turn-off for the majority of non-biologists),
 I want to emphasize context through interaction with off-campus scientists and
 current events.  Biology majors already know how the subject relates to them
 but non-majors may need examples, and my single suggestion is
 to take advantage of your local museum.
 
 
 At the New
 York State Museum - within a half hour of at least 8 colleges/universities -
 research scientists are expected to engage in educational
 outreach and regularly present their work through lunchtime lectures (geared
 toward the general public), K-12 teacher workshops (demonstrating concepts 
 like
 evolution using local/regional examples), and evening programs such as 
 Cooking
 the Tree of Life (to celebrate Darwin's birthday, a local chef cooks a single
 food item a variety of ways while a museum scientist explains its evolutionary
 and cultural development).  In any given year the NYSM hosts over 40,000
 people in its programs, and other museums are likewise mandated to engage the
 public.  Museums also loan material and may have collections
 specifically for classroom use; many schools have their own
 skulls, etc. for students to measure, but if yours doesn't, ask a museum.
  Instead of talking about how snowshoe hares change color with the
 seasons, get some actual pelts.  You may even have luck inviting the
 museum mammalogist to your class to give a first-hand account of changes in
 hare populations in your area.  At a minimum, the education experts at
 some museums will be able to provide you with written material and
 local/regional examples.  
 
 Take your lab
 sections on a behind-the-scenes tour of
 museum research and collections.  Not all
 museums will be able to accommodate you, but ask to see what materials are
 collected and why - and hear it from the people who do that full-time.
  Such a tour could have something for everyone: herbarium, beetling tank
 for cleaning bones, bird-mounting room, DNA lab, fossils being prepared, and 
 so
 on.  The anthropology collections may offer insights into human
 AP and the media liaisons at larger institutions might talk about science
 communication.  In a single visit you could discuss plant evolution from
 19th C.
 fossil collection to emerging molecular techniques, and see examples of both. 
 Because so many museums formed as natural history emerged as a topic of study,
 they can present biology within its historical context and from a holistic
 perspective with enough ooh and aah moments to be digestible for
 non-majors.  Even if the
 museum does not have an active research program, their collections are still
 managed by knowledgeable staff who will at least try to convince the most
 anti-biology
 student that a drawer of pine cones has value.  Most museum staff are
 happy to do this if given sufficient advance notice and a list of topics to
 touch on.  Some are featured in newspapers summarizing a project that was
 recently published, so you could read the article, discuss the publication,
 then meet the person and see where the magic
 happened!
  
 The more our state museums (and
 the like) are able to demonstrate their utility to current administrators and
 future voters, the better.  Use these resources as they were intended: for
 the public benefit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Chelsea Teale
 PhD Candidate, Geography
 The
 Pennsylvania State University
 NYS Museum Research 
 Collections

--
David McNeely


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Dixon, Mark
I used the Essential Biology text by Pearson (the older version, with Campbell 
as one of the authors) a few years ago (~2005) for a non-majors intro course at 
a community college.  I thought it was a decent text, although I wasn't aiming 
for an ecological focus in particular (but, it did seem to have a solid 
treatment of evolution).  I don't know how similar or different the new edition 
is, although the price (~$142) and length (544 pages) seem a little more than 
what I remember.

Mark D.

From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news 
[ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of Emily Pollina [ec...@cornell.edu]
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2012 10:20 AM
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

Hi!  That sounds like a very interesting course.  I definitely understand
the struggle.  I taught a non-majors class on climate change last fall, and
I had similar difficulty in setting the syllabus- it's hard to know what to
cover when you know your class is perhaps the last and only biology (or
science) course for these students.
   That said, I would say that less is more, especially in a non-majors
class.  My fear is that if you try to cover too many units, students will
have a superficial understanding of the topics, which will quickly fade
after the final exam.  (This might happen anyway, but the more superficial
their understanding, the more likely it is.)  I think that it would
probably better to cover a small number of contemporary issues in more
depth.   I think the students will benefit more from learning how
scientists tackle a problem and how to evaluate scientific pronouncements
that they read/hear on the news.  (In other words, I'm advocating for a
substantial nature of science focus throughout the units you choose, which
tends to work better if you do a small number of topics in more depth.)
 Frankly, I think we as educators have to (reluctantly) accept that we
can't cover everything, and so eventually our students will have to find
information on their own if they wish to make informed decisions about a
particular topic.  What we can try to do for them is to help them develop
the intellectual tools to make that possible.
In addition,  I like the idea of focusing more on ecology, because
it sounds like the students have many opportunities to learn the molecular
biology and genetics side of things in the other courses you describe.  But
you might consider some integrated units (e.g. the ecology of infectious
diseases or the environmental side of cancer), where you could introduce
molecular biology/genetics/development topics with ecological topics, and
show the students how those two fields can inform and strengthen each
other.
I wish I could be helpful about textbooks, but I can't really think
of a single book.  I'm wondering if you want to assemble a list of
prospective unit topics, and then send another email out to the list-
knowing what topics you are hoping will be included would be a big help.
 Sometimes the university bookstore will also assemble a course pack of
excerpts from different books.  That can be expensive, depending on the
price of copyright, but it's worth looking into if people can recommend
only favorite book chapters.
  Best wishes,
   Emily Pollina
   Ph.D. Candidate


On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 3:49 PM, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.eduwrote:

 Greetings,

 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in
 the fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the
 course at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as
 long as I hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is
 certainly doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present.
 The course is meant to present the science of contemporary issues that may
 be important and/or interesting to the non-science student rather than a
 broad survey course encompassing all of biology. There is another such
 survey course with a set syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two
 other sections of contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I
 would like to focus on the many ecological issues that both affect and are
 affected by humans. My struggle involves the fact that this may be the only
 (or last) biology these students get before we cast them out into the
 world. So I want to be sure and cover all my bases.

 I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit
 of including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer
 but perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will
 most likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the
 structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I
 be cheating them somehow by not providing enough information to them for
 making informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Helena Puche
David,

I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. Dickey. 
It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of them with a 
focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and pictures. Twelve of the 
20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three chapters on taxonomy and 
systematics. The last three include populations  ecology, communities  
ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will have to add extra material 
to recreate those last topics. 

I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, designed 
a ppt to introduce Darwin's life and thoughts, and added many lab activities to 
learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population growth rate  
size, population growth models, climate change, and identifying biomes. 

Evolution links to check are:
http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02 

I used those as base for the lab activities.

Hope this helps.

Helena



Helena Puche, Ph. D. 

Adjunct Assistant Professor

University of Illinois at Chicago


Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
066

845 West Taylor Street 

Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu



--- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:

From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Date: Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:49 PM

Greetings,

I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in the 
fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the course at 
my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as long as I hit 
broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is certainly doable, 
I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present. The course is meant 
to present the science of contemporary issues that may be important and/or 
interesting to the non-science student rather than a broad survey course 
encompassing all of biology. There is another such survey course with a set 
syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two other sections of 
contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I would like to focus on 
the many ecological issues that both affect and are affected by humans. My 
struggle involves the fact that this may be the only (or last) biology these 
students get before we cast them out into the world.
 So I want to be sure and cover all my bases. 

I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit of 
including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer but 
perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will most 
likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the 
structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I be 
cheating them somehow by not providing enough information to them for making 
informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area of expertise, such as 
developmental biology and stem cells?

The other question I have involves textbooks. Is anyone aware of a text (or 
perhaps pop-science books) designed for the non-science major that focuses on 
ecology, in particular the involvement of humans in ecological systems? I 
haven't been able to find something I like and am looking for recommendations.

Thanks and I'll circulate a summary response if/when the discussion runs its 
course.

Cheers,

David

David R. Johnson PhD.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Systems Ecology Lab
University of Texas at El Paso
drjohns...@utep.edu


Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Bill Maher

Good morning,

I'm not an ecologist, biologist or any other type of natural science type --
I'm a 63-year-old news editor who has been visiting this and other sites to 
understand worldwide environmental issues.


The main thing I remember from my course 40-plus years ago for non-biology
majors is that I don't remember much of anything. We memorized a lot of
terms and definitions that we promptly forgot about 30 minutes after the
final exam.

I agree with Emily that less is sometimes more. I personally would have
benefitted greatly from a course that touched on the broad issues facing our
world today -- safe water, carbon/methane emissions, waste disposal (I
thoroughly HATE all the discarded plastic bottles along the shoulders of
highways), sustainable communities, forest protection -- than from a course
that spent a lot of time talking about cellular functions or DNA/RNA
replication, or memorizing terms like apical meristem or convergent 
evolution.


The non-biology students who sometimes advance in life to become our 
lawmakers and policy makers would be better

served to learn more about the scientific method, so they can understand how
a theory is reached and how it becomes generally accepted. They probably
would have a greater understanding of scientific principles if they spent a 
day or two of
their instructional time on a bird-banding team or collecting water samples 
from below the sewage treatment plant.


Here's a non-scientific parallel: I minored in economics. Against the advice 
of my advisor, I took a course called Economics of Black America, and I 
spent a lot of time going through minority/marginal neighborhoods to learn 
how they got to be the way they were. The stuff I learned in that one course 
has benefitted me and my news organization more in the last 40 years than 
all the other economics courses put together.


That's my two cents worth.


- Original Message - 
From: Emily Pollina ec...@cornell.edu

To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2012 11:20 AM
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology



Hi!  That sounds like a very interesting course.  I definitely understand
the struggle.  I taught a non-majors class on climate change last fall,
and
I had similar difficulty in setting the syllabus- it's hard to know what
to
cover when you know your class is perhaps the last and only biology (or
science) course for these students.
  That said, I would say that less is more, especially in a non-majors
class.  My fear is that if you try to cover too many units, students will
have a superficial understanding of the topics, which will quickly fade
after the final exam.  (This might happen anyway, but the more superficial
their understanding, the more likely it is.)  I think that it would
probably better to cover a small number of contemporary issues in more
depth.   I think the students will benefit more from learning how
scientists tackle a problem and how to evaluate scientific
pronouncements
that they read/hear on the news.  (In other words, I'm advocating for a
substantial nature of science focus throughout the units you choose, which
tends to work better if you do a small number of topics in more depth.)
Frankly, I think we as educators have to (reluctantly) accept that we
can't cover everything, and so eventually our students will have to find
information on their own if they wish to make informed decisions about a
particular topic.  What we can try to do for them is to help them develop
the intellectual tools to make that possible.
   In addition,  I like the idea of focusing more on ecology, because
it sounds like the students have many opportunities to learn the molecular
biology and genetics side of things in the other courses you describe.
But
you might consider some integrated units (e.g. the ecology of infectious
diseases or the environmental side of cancer), where you could introduce
molecular biology/genetics/development topics with ecological topics, and
show the students how those two fields can inform and strengthen each
other.
   I wish I could be helpful about textbooks, but I can't really think
of a single book.  I'm wondering if you want to assemble a list of
prospective unit topics, and then send another email out to the list-
knowing what topics you are hoping will be included would be a big help.
Sometimes the university bookstore will also assemble a course pack of
excerpts from different books.  That can be expensive, depending on the
price of copyright, but it's worth looking into if people can recommend
only favorite book chapters.
 Best wishes,
  Emily Pollina
  Ph.D. Candidate


On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 3:49 PM, Johnson, David R
drjohns...@utep.eduwrote:


Greetings,

I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in
the fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the
course at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish
as
long as I hit broad themes such as Cell

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Thomas R Rosburg
An intro non-majors biology course should provide a broad overview of the 
science of biology and its major disciplines.  It is very possible to make 
topics like physiology, anatomy, evolution and cellular biology relevant to 20 
year-old students.  And I agree that in a non-majors course extra effort should 
be given to showing students how the biological discipines mesh and why its 
important for everyone on earth to have an understanding of how biology is 
important in their lives.

The issues mentioned by Bill - safe water, carbon/methane emissions, waste 
disposal - are  more appropriate in an intro environmental studies course.  
They could be used for an example of an application of ecology, (although loss 
of biodiversity is perhaps better), but an intro biology course should not 
focus just on environmental issues.  That would not be fair to the students.


Thomas Rosburg, PhD
Professor, Department of Biology
Drake Biodiversity Center and Herbarium
Drake University, 2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 


From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news 
[ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] on behalf of Bill Maher [wcma...@windstream.net]
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2012 10:33 AM
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

Good morning,

I'm not an ecologist, biologist or any other type of natural science type --
I'm a 63-year-old news editor who has been visiting this and other sites to
understand worldwide environmental issues.

The main thing I remember from my course 40-plus years ago for non-biology
majors is that I don't remember much of anything. We memorized a lot of
terms and definitions that we promptly forgot about 30 minutes after the
final exam.

I agree with Emily that less is sometimes more. I personally would have
benefitted greatly from a course that touched on the broad issues facing our
world today -- safe water, carbon/methane emissions, waste disposal (I
thoroughly HATE all the discarded plastic bottles along the shoulders of
highways), sustainable communities, forest protection -- than from a course
that spent a lot of time talking about cellular functions or DNA/RNA
replication, or memorizing terms like apical meristem or convergent
evolution.

The non-biology students who sometimes advance in life to become our
lawmakers and policy makers would be better
served to learn more about the scientific method, so they can understand how
a theory is reached and how it becomes generally accepted. They probably
would have a greater understanding of scientific principles if they spent a
day or two of
their instructional time on a bird-banding team or collecting water samples
from below the sewage treatment plant.

Here's a non-scientific parallel: I minored in economics. Against the advice
of my advisor, I took a course called Economics of Black America, and I
spent a lot of time going through minority/marginal neighborhoods to learn
how they got to be the way they were. The stuff I learned in that one course
has benefitted me and my news organization more in the last 40 years than
all the other economics courses put together.

That's my two cents worth.


- Original Message -
From: Emily Pollina ec...@cornell.edu
To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2012 11:20 AM
Subject: Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology


 Hi!  That sounds like a very interesting course.  I definitely understand
 the struggle.  I taught a non-majors class on climate change last fall,
 and
 I had similar difficulty in setting the syllabus- it's hard to know what
 to
 cover when you know your class is perhaps the last and only biology (or
 science) course for these students.
   That said, I would say that less is more, especially in a non-majors
 class.  My fear is that if you try to cover too many units, students will
 have a superficial understanding of the topics, which will quickly fade
 after the final exam.  (This might happen anyway, but the more superficial
 their understanding, the more likely it is.)  I think that it would
 probably better to cover a small number of contemporary issues in more
 depth.   I think the students will benefit more from learning how
 scientists tackle a problem and how to evaluate scientific
 pronouncements
 that they read/hear on the news.  (In other words, I'm advocating for a
 substantial nature of science focus throughout the units you choose, which
 tends to work better if you do a small number of topics in more depth.)
 Frankly, I think we as educators have to (reluctantly) accept that we
 can't cover everything, and so eventually our students will have to find
 information on their own if they wish to make informed decisions about a
 particular topic.  What we can try to do for them is to help them develop
 the intellectual tools to make that possible.
In addition,  I like the idea of focusing more on ecology, because
 it sounds like the students have many opportunities

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, and 
other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
education today.

Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career in 
a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to make 
mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the real value 
to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal with cell-DNA 
and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to the last three 
chapters.

My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really practical 
use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that their 
physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of infinitely 
greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic principles of ecology, 
plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and the like. Knowing about 
these things will enable students in general to understand how humans fit into 
and affect the world around them, and such understanding will help them make 
informed decisions about such things as overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, 
use of household pesticides and fertilizers--to say nothing of current 
controversial topics like global climate change, fracking, etc.

We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses taught 
from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the classroom and 
lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med approach is often a 
turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes ecology, the environment, 
field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught undergrad biology and know such 
is the case with many college students.

Cheers,

BILL


On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:

 David,
 
 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. Dickey. 
 It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of them with a 
 focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and pictures. Twelve of 
 the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three chapters on taxonomy 
 and systematics. The last three include populations  ecology, communities  
 ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will have to add extra material 
 to recreate those last topics. 
 
 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and identifying 
 biomes. 
 
 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02 
 
 I used those as base for the lab activities.
 
 Hope this helps.
 
 Helena
 
 
 
 Helena Puche, Ph. D. 
 
 Adjunct Assistant Professor
 
 University of Illinois at Chicago
 
 
 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066
 
 845 West Taylor Street 
 
 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu
 
 
 
 --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:
 
 From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
 Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
 To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Date: Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:49 PM
 
 Greetings,
 
 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in the 
 fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the course 
 at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as long as I 
 hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is certainly 
 doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present. The course 
 is meant to present the science of contemporary issues that may be important 
 and/or interesting to the non-science student rather than a broad survey 
 course encompassing all of biology. There is another such survey course with 
 a set syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two other sections of 
 contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I would like to focus on 
 the many ecological issues that both affect and are affected by humans. My 
 struggle involves the fact that this may be the only (or last) biology these 
 students get before we cast them out into the world.
 So I want to be sure and cover all my bases. 
 
 I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit of 
 including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer but 
 perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will most 
 likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the 
 structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I be 
 cheating them somehow

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread Judith S. Weis
I agree 100% !!



 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology,
 genetics, and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I
 contend the Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong
 with biology education today.

 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a
 career in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad
 course to make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I
 question the real value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12
 chapters deal with cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are
 relegated to the last three chapters.

 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic
 principles of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and
 the like. Knowing about these things will enable students in general to
 understand how humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such
 understanding will help them make informed decisions about such things as
 overfishing, watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and
 fertilizers--to say nothing of current controversial topics like global
 climate change, fracking, etc.

 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.

 Cheers,

 BILL


 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:

 David,

 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L.
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all
 of them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and
 pictures. Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then
 three chapters on taxonomy and systematics. The last three include
 populations  ecology, communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere.
 Therefore, you will have to add extra material to recreate those last
 topics.

 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below,
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating
 population growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change,
 and identifying biomes.

 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02

 I used those as base for the lab activities.

 Hope this helps.

 Helena



 Helena Puche, Ph. D.

 Adjunct Assistant Professor

 University of Illinois at Chicago


 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066

 845 West Taylor Street

 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu



 --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:

 From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
 Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
 To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Date: Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:49 PM

 Greetings,

 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in
 the fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize
 the course at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I
 wish as long as I hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution.
 While this is certainly doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what
 content to present. The course is meant to present the science of
 contemporary issues that may be important and/or interesting to the
 non-science student rather than a broad survey course encompassing all
 of biology. There is another such survey course with a set syllabus that
 I am not teaching, and there are two other sections of contemporary
 biology that are focusing on genetics. I would like to focus on the many
 ecological issues that both affect and are affected by humans. My
 struggle involves the fact that this may be the only (or last) biology
 these students get before we cast them out into the world.
 So I want to be sure and cover all my bases.

 I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative
 merit of including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on
 fewer but perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These
 students will most likely not become scientists, and certainly won't
 need to memorize the structure of all the amino acids, for example. On
 the other hand, would I be cheating them somehow by not providing enough

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-27 Thread malcolm McCallum
The problem with biology education today is that there are:
1) no standards for what the major is
2) no accreditation governing what a department should comprise

Europe now has accreditation for the discipline and if the US does not
follow suit you can watch rapidly as we not only fall behind in
biology, but basically fall like a rock in stature.

Too many departments just wing it at the whim of the administrations' folly.
Accreditation provides the departments with significant support and
legitimacy in the face of those administrations that generally care a
lot about money and little about quality or students.

There are more of those than we care to admit.

Look, we can't even agree whether biodiversity concepts belong in an
intro to bio class.
I find this not only disheartening but also frightening.  Where else
they going to learn it, English?
Most schools don't have an EVS course, and many never will.

Malcolm

On Sun, May 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, Bill Hilton Jr. (RESEARCH)
resea...@hiltonpond.org wrote:
 With sincere respect to all of you in the fields of microbiology, genetics, 
 and other laboratory-based disciplines of the life sciences, I contend the 
 Campbell Essential Biology approach is exactly what is wrong with biology 
 education today.

 Nearly all undergraduate and high school introductory biology courses are 
 written as if EVERY student is going on to med school, nursing, or a career 
 in a lab-based science. I agree it's important for an undergrad course to 
 make mention of cytology, DNA, photosynthesis, etc., but I question the real 
 value to students of any non-major textbook in which 12 chapters deal with 
 cell-DNA and ecology, ecosystems, and the biosphere are relegated to the last 
 three chapters.

 My guess is that 95% or more of non-majors will never have any really 
 practical use for information about cell-DNA. It's complicated stuff that 
 their physicians and pharmacists need to know, but what would be of 
 infinitely greater value is for everyone to be familiar with basic principles 
 of ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology, and the like. 
 Knowing about these things will enable students in general to understand how 
 humans fit into and affect the world around them, and such understanding will 
 help them make informed decisions about such things as overfishing, 
 watersheds and wetlands, use of household pesticides and fertilizers--to say 
 nothing of current controversial topics like global climate change, fracking, 
 etc.

 We all teach what we know, of course, and the vast majority of high school 
 biology teachers know what they learned in an undergrad biology courses 
 taught from the pre-med perspective. I know from 25-plus years in the 
 classroom and lab that for kids not going off to med-school the pre-med 
 approach is often a turn-off to science, while a course that emphasizes 
 ecology, the environment, field work, etc., is a turn-on. I also taught 
 undergrad biology and know such is the case with many college students.

 Cheers,

 BILL


 On May 27, 2012, at 10:48 AM, Helena Puche wrote:

 David,

 I used Campbell Essential Biology by E.J. Simon, J.B.Reece and J.L. 
 Dickey. It is a book for non-biology  majors that has 20 chapters, all of 
 them with a focus on evolution and examples, and nice drawings and pictures. 
 Twelve of the 20 chapters are geared toward cell-DNA, then three chapters on 
 taxonomy and systematics. The last three include populations  ecology, 
 communities  ecosystems, and the biosphere. Therefore, you will have to add 
 extra material to recreate those last topics.

 I created  several evolution labs using beans or the web pages below, 
 designed a ppt to introduce Darwin's liand thoughts, and added many lab 
 activities to learn about mark-recapture techniques, estimating population 
 growth rate  size, population growth models, climate change, and 
 identifying biomes.

 Evolution links to check are:
 http://video.pbs.org/video/1300397304/
 http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/devitt_02

 I used those as base for the lab activities.

 Hope this helps.

 Helena



 Helena Puche, Ph. D.

 Adjunct Assistant Professor

 University of Illinois at Chicago


 Biological Sciences, 3464 SES, MC
 066

 845 West Taylor Street

 Chicago, IL 60607hpu...@uic.edu



 --- On Fri, 5/25/12, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:

 From: Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu
 Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology
 To: ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
 Date: Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:49 PM

 Greetings,

 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in the 
 fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the course 
 at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as long as 
 I hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is 
 certainly doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present. 
 The course is meant to present

Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-26 Thread Emily Pollina
Hi!  That sounds like a very interesting course.  I definitely understand
the struggle.  I taught a non-majors class on climate change last fall, and
I had similar difficulty in setting the syllabus- it's hard to know what to
cover when you know your class is perhaps the last and only biology (or
science) course for these students.
   That said, I would say that less is more, especially in a non-majors
class.  My fear is that if you try to cover too many units, students will
have a superficial understanding of the topics, which will quickly fade
after the final exam.  (This might happen anyway, but the more superficial
their understanding, the more likely it is.)  I think that it would
probably better to cover a small number of contemporary issues in more
depth.   I think the students will benefit more from learning how
scientists tackle a problem and how to evaluate scientific pronouncements
that they read/hear on the news.  (In other words, I'm advocating for a
substantial nature of science focus throughout the units you choose, which
tends to work better if you do a small number of topics in more depth.)
 Frankly, I think we as educators have to (reluctantly) accept that we
can't cover everything, and so eventually our students will have to find
information on their own if they wish to make informed decisions about a
particular topic.  What we can try to do for them is to help them develop
the intellectual tools to make that possible.
In addition,  I like the idea of focusing more on ecology, because
it sounds like the students have many opportunities to learn the molecular
biology and genetics side of things in the other courses you describe.  But
you might consider some integrated units (e.g. the ecology of infectious
diseases or the environmental side of cancer), where you could introduce
molecular biology/genetics/development topics with ecological topics, and
show the students how those two fields can inform and strengthen each
other.
I wish I could be helpful about textbooks, but I can't really think
of a single book.  I'm wondering if you want to assemble a list of
prospective unit topics, and then send another email out to the list-
knowing what topics you are hoping will be included would be a big help.
 Sometimes the university bookstore will also assemble a course pack of
excerpts from different books.  That can be expensive, depending on the
price of copyright, but it's worth looking into if people can recommend
only favorite book chapters.
  Best wishes,
   Emily Pollina
   Ph.D. Candidate


On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 3:49 PM, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.eduwrote:

 Greetings,

 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in
 the fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the
 course at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as
 long as I hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is
 certainly doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present.
 The course is meant to present the science of contemporary issues that may
 be important and/or interesting to the non-science student rather than a
 broad survey course encompassing all of biology. There is another such
 survey course with a set syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two
 other sections of contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I
 would like to focus on the many ecological issues that both affect and are
 affected by humans. My struggle involves the fact that this may be the only
 (or last) biology these students get before we cast them out into the
 world. So I want to be sure and cover all my bases.

 I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit
 of including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer
 but perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will
 most likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the
 structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I
 be cheating them somehow by not providing enough information to them for
 making informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area of expertise,
 such as developmental biology and stem cells?

 The other question I have involves textbooks. Is anyone aware of a text
 (or perhaps pop-science books) designed for the non-science major that
 focuses on ecology, in particular the involvement of humans in ecological
 systems? I haven't been able to find something I like and am looking for
 recommendations.

 Thanks and I'll circulate a summary response if/when the discussion runs
 its course.

 Cheers,

 David

 David R. Johnson PhD.
 Postdoctoral Research Associate
 Systems Ecology Lab
 University of Texas at El Paso
 drjohns...@utep.edu



Re: [ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-26 Thread malcolm McCallum
A non-majors biology course is intended to provide an overview of the
entire field.
A majors biology course is intended to prepare majors for courses they
will later take.
Therefore, you want to make sure you touch on the major issues in
biology, but don't
get too hung up on technicalities and specifics.

for a brief list of points
Students should understand
basic cell anatomy and function
mitosis  meiosis  cell cycle
basic tissue types  basic function
organs and basic function
basic mendellian inheritance
DNA structure and function
replication, transcription, translation
levels of organization: sub-cellular, cellular, tissue, organ, organ
system, organism, population, community, ecosystem, biosphere.
Ecosystem ecology
organismal ecology
population ecology
community ecology
Evolution and evolutionary mechanisms (this blends into all other
areas if done correctly)

Some additional things to add:
Science in the news (current events)
Political decision making vs scientific deduction
deduction vs induction

I'm not sure if this is helpful, but it is just a list off the top of my head!
Malcolm

On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 2:49 PM, Johnson, David R drjohns...@utep.edu wrote:
 Greetings,

 I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in the 
 fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the course 
 at my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as long as I 
 hit broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is certainly 
 doable, I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present. The course 
 is meant to present the science of contemporary issues that may be important 
 and/or interesting to the non-science student rather than a broad survey 
 course encompassing all of biology. There is another such survey course with 
 a set syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two other sections of 
 contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I would like to focus on 
 the many ecological issues that both affect and are affected by humans. My 
 struggle involves the fact that this may be the only (or last) biology these 
 students get before we cast them out into the world. So I want to be sure and 
 cover all my bases.

 I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit of 
 including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer but 
 perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will most 
 likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the 
 structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I be 
 cheating them somehow by not providing enough information to them for making 
 informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area of expertise, such as 
 developmental biology and stem cells?

 The other question I have involves textbooks. Is anyone aware of a text (or 
 perhaps pop-science books) designed for the non-science major that focuses on 
 ecology, in particular the involvement of humans in ecological systems? I 
 haven't been able to find something I like and am looking for recommendations.

 Thanks and I'll circulate a summary response if/when the discussion runs its 
 course.

 Cheers,

 David

 David R. Johnson PhD.
 Postdoctoral Research Associate
 Systems Ecology Lab
 University of Texas at El Paso
 drjohns...@utep.edu



-- 
Malcolm L. McCallum
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
School of Biological Sciences
University of Missouri at Kansas City

Managing Editor,
Herpetological Conservation and Biology

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1990's:  Many fish stocks depleted due to overfishing, habitat loss,
            and pollution.
2000:  Marine reserves, ecosystem restoration, and pollution reduction
          MAY help restore populations.
2022: Soylent Green is People!

The Seven Blunders of the World (Mohandas Gandhi)
Wealth w/o work
Pleasure w/o conscience
Knowledge w/o character
Commerce w/o morality
Science w/o humanity
Worship w/o sacrifice
Politics w/o principle

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[ECOLOG-L] Non-Majors Biology

2012-05-25 Thread Johnson, David R
Greetings,

I am teaching a contemporary biology course for non-science majors in the 
fall and for the first time I am fortunate to be able to organize the course at 
my discretion. Effectively, I can present any material I wish as long as I hit 
broad themes such as Cell Theory and Evolution. While this is certainly doable, 
I am struggling deciding exactly what content to present. The course is meant 
to present the science of contemporary issues that may be important and/or 
interesting to the non-science student rather than a broad survey course 
encompassing all of biology. There is another such survey course with a set 
syllabus that I am not teaching, and there are two other sections of 
contemporary biology that are focusing on genetics. I would like to focus on 
the many ecological issues that both affect and are affected by humans. My 
struggle involves the fact that this may be the only (or last) biology these 
students get before we cast them out into the world. So I want to be sure and 
cover all my bases. 

I am writing Ecolog with two questions. First, what is the relative merit of 
including as much biology as possible as opposed to focusing on fewer but 
perhaps more directly relevant ecological topics? These students will most 
likely not become scientists, and certainly won't need to memorize the 
structure of all the amino acids, for example. On the other hand, would I be 
cheating them somehow by not providing enough information to them for making 
informed decisions on topics outside of my direct area of expertise, such as 
developmental biology and stem cells?

The other question I have involves textbooks. Is anyone aware of a text (or 
perhaps pop-science books) designed for the non-science major that focuses on 
ecology, in particular the involvement of humans in ecological systems? I 
haven't been able to find something I like and am looking for recommendations.

Thanks and I'll circulate a summary response if/when the discussion runs its 
course.

Cheers,

David

David R. Johnson PhD.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Systems Ecology Lab
University of Texas at El Paso
drjohns...@utep.edu