The Natural World
A menu of five-hour lecture/lab courses to be taken from the
first year onward. Courses not required of science majors.
- To gain awareness of some significant scientific theories and
achievements, and to recognize how they are related both to other
areas of science and to our understanding of broader societal
- To develop an understanding of the methods of natural science
and a capacity to reason scientifically.
- To experience first-hand the scientific process method through
"We are not trying to teach basic science in a vacuum," Dr.
Angela Ockerman explains about the course she co-teaches with Dr.
Jennifer Kowalski, Life, Death and Immortality. Rather, she
continues, "We are demonstrating-almost EVERY DAY in class-how
completely inseparable basic science is from everyday life in a
personal way." Focusing on the story of Henrietta Lacks, the
woman whose cancer cells were used without her permission, the
course integrates cell biology and genetics, healthcare, and social
justice issues. As one student noted, the course "made cells
and science more real since it involved an actual person. And
it brought the cells closer to me instead of just looking through
the microscope at 'unknown cells'….The cells were actually real and
part of something much bigger."
Science and society intersect in other courses, as well.
In Dr. Tara Lineweaver and Dr. Phil Villani's course, Food:
Pasture, Table, Body, Mind, students "do science," Lineweaver
affirms, "not just learn about it." Field trips to local
farms are complemented by a community engagement project that
requires students to plan, prepare, serve a meal at a local
free-meals program, and share the meal with community members who
regularly rely on the program.
In Dr. Marva Meadows course, The World of Plants, Butler
students pair with students at the Indianapolis School for the
Blind and Visually Impaired. Together, they'll form "Tree
Teams" and develop expertise on tree types found on both
campuses. Such collaboration "will allow them to develop an
understanding of how science works," Meadows says. But even
more, Meadows notes that "As scientists we often rely too heavily
on sight and this experience will demonstrate to our students the
value of using all their senses in making meaning of the natural