Biol 385 - Biologic Topics: New Majors Colloquium

- Fall 2015 -


Instructor: Jim Dooley

Office: BSC 428

Phone: 740-826-8227



Course Description:

This seminar is intended for new majors in the life sciences. While we may cover a small amount of lecture material, the vast majority of this course will be discussion oriented. THEREFORE IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU COME TO CLASS HAVING READ THE ASSIGNED MATERIAL AND READY TO DISCUSS THE WEEK'S TOPIC.

This semester we will be reading selections from a number of sources.   There is a text that contains a good number of our readings: Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Science, Technology, and Society (10th Edition. Thomas A Easton, McGraw Hill, ISBN 13 =  9780078050459). Note:  McGraw-Hill puts out 1-2 new editions each year  - that means you will likely find earlier editions online that look like great deals but won't work because many of the articles change with each new edition.

The overarching aim is to provide you with some relatively recent information about a range of important contemporary scientific issues. More importantly, we want to further develop your ability to appreciate the notion that that in this day, many scientific issues are inherently complex and can be viewed from a number of different perspectives. The development of workable solutions to many problems is often hampered by a, "I'm right and you're wrong," attitude. Each of us needs to come to understand our own values in order to clarify our positions on any significant issues. Then we must work hard to accept the validity of other perspectives.


Course Learning Objectives:  Course Leaning Objectives extend directly from the Biology Department's Learning Goals.   In particular, the learning objectives for this course emphasize Biology Department Learning Goals 1 & 3.   As a result of successfully completing this course, students will:

Seminar Meetings:

We will meet on Mondays from 2:00 - 2:50 p.m. in BSC 441

Student Requirements:

Each student will be required to lead the class discussion for 1week.   I will describe the chapter selection process on the first day of class.

Your Presentations: Remember these are not oral reports!: The aim is to lead the class in discussion. As you develop your approach to this task, consider the following as "jumping off points" for discussion:

Paper: You will have an eight page (miniumum and not including citations) paper due by the start of the class following your presentation based on your presentation topic.  You will use standar paper format with regard to margins and font. In addition you must properly use APA style in citing your supporting literature.  You are required to include 12 citations in your paper and literature cited.  I will edit the first 2-3 pages of your paper, return it to you, and expect you to edit the rest of the paper and submit a revision that will be due two weeks after your presentation.

Final Exam:
There will be a final exam administered during exam week at the end of the term based on the readings for the entire term.  

Final Grade: Your final grade will be determined using the following rubric: active participation (this includes all classroom sessions as well as requried posts on Black Board) - 25%, discussion leadership on your topic day - 25%, paper - 25%, final exam - 25%.

Communication Policy:   I understand that you may or may not routinely check email in your personal life.  However, email is a critical means of communication for this course.  Your are responsible for checking in for course email at least once each day.  "I didn't receive the email" will not  be accepted as an excuse if you fail to receive and act on annoucements or changes to course assignments


Classroom Schedule




Prep Reading


Overview: Course structure and elements
Discussion: Career goals, the nature of science and approaches to studying in the sciences
First Journal Post due on Friday 9/04 by 5 pm.



Discussion: Why Students Don't Like School? (6102") & Making College 'Relevant' (6232")

Willingham - 2009
Zernike - 2009
Journal Post Due 9/06, 5 pm


Discussion: It Takes More Than A Major (6269")
Exercise: Library Search Tools

Hart Research Associates - 2013
Journal Post Due 9/13, 5 pm


Discussion: What do scientific studies show? (6191")
: Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe to Eat? - Jim Dooley

Gutting - 2013
Easton: Issue: 11
Journal Post Due 9/20, 5 pm


Class Cancelled


Update Roundtable on Career Planning Progress
Use of APA style in scientific writing



Fall Break 



Are We Doing Enough to protect the Earth from Asteriod and Comet Impacts?

Easton: Issue: 12
Journal Post Due 10/18, 5 pm


Do Falling birthrates Pose a Threat to Human Welfare? - Parker

Easton: Issue: 7
Journal Post Due 10/25, 5 pm


Is Animal Rights Just Another Excuse for Terrorism? - Courtney

Easton: Issue: 18
Journal Post Due 11/01, 5 pm


Do Humans Belong in Space?  - Maddie

Easton: Issue: 14
Journal Post Due 11/08, 5 pm?


Visit to Career Services - start on apptitude test



Is it Time to Think Seriously About "Climate Enginerring"? - Jim
Do Falling birthrates Pose a Threat to Human Welfare? - Parker

 Easton: Issue: 4
Journal Post Due 11/22, 5 pm?


Student Meetings TBA


Final Meeting - Exam Prep and Course Evaluation

Final Exam Due in as email attachment by the end of exam period. (10:30 am)

Disabilities Statement:

Any student who wishes to request an accommodation  is responsible to contact the Disability Education Office (DEO) to discuss his/her specific needs and the process to receive reasonable accommodation.  Please contact the DEO, located in The PLUS Center in Walter Hall #26 or call 740-826-6132 to arrange an appointment as soon as possible.  At the appointment, the procedure to coordinate accommodations will be discussed.  You can also find information about the process for accommodation on the web at  

Muskingum University seeks to provide an environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment.  If you have been the victim of sexual harassment/misconduct/assault we encourage you to report this.  If you report this to a faculty member, she or he must notify our university's Title IX coordinator, Janet Heeter-Bass, about the basic facts of the incident.  For more information about your options at Muskingum University, please go to: