Health, Biology and Society Course

Development of “Health, Biology, and Society: A Gateway Course to the Major”

This project will develop a 200-level gateway course for an envisioned new major “Health, Biology, and Society.” This course, and eventual major, will provide a new model for interdisciplinary teaching that increases engaged and action-based learning for a diverse set of UM students. The proposed course integrates the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to explore complex issues and questions in the health sciences to educate and train students in multidimensional and holistic understandings of health and society.

There are several innovative characteristics of this course. First, it combines materials that usually are taught in separate disciplines, in a manner that is simultaneously rigorous and accessible. Students will become familiar with the strengths and limitations of varying analytical frameworks and methods, and be asked to engage in course activities that foreground interdisciplinary approaches to the health sciences. Second, this course is designed to be team taught by two professors from different LSA divisions and with distinct academic training and expertise. Third, this course will not only expose students to a thoughtfully designed corpus of interdisciplinary materials, it also seeks to demonstrate how, at its finest, interdisciplinary work can constitute more than the sum of the parts. In other words, this course will engage students deeply with both the “what,” in terms of diverse course content, as well as the “how,” in terms of learning how to think and do interdisciplinary work in the health sciences. The Team will spend 6 months developing this course and intend to launch it in winter 2016.

Project Team:

Alexandra Minna Stern, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical School

Laura Olsen, Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, College of Literature, Science and Arts