Natural Science Distribution

All students at Washington College complete a distribution requirement in the Natural Sciences, and the Department of Biology offers several courses that help to fulfill this requirement.

Natural Sciences General Education Learning Goals

A liberally educated citizen is one who understands the natural world and has informed views about the impact of scientific endeavors on the quality of life.  A laboratory course in the Natural Sciences seeks to provide students with an appreciation of the natural processes that impact us and the world we live in through systematic observations and experimentation, formation and verification of theories, and quantitative methods in a hands-on laboratory and/or field setting.  Students completing a Natural Science laboratory distribution course will:

  • demonstrate the ability to apply scientific methodology as a way of understanding the world;
  • acquire an understanding of the importance of data in analysis and decision making;
  • demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate scientific information and visual representations of data.

Recommendations for Non-Majors

  • Students looking to fulfill their Natural Science Distribution requirement with one or two courses are encouraged to take BIO 100 Current Topics in Biology, offered in the fall semester and/or BIO 104 Society, Ecology and the Chesapeake Bay, offered in the spring semester. Neither course has any prerequisites.
  • The majors-level introductory courses BIO 111 and 112 are targeted towards students majoring in the sciences. The lecture is rigorous and content-heavy and the laboratories have a substantial workload associated with the goal of training students in hypothesis formation, experimental design, data collection analysis and graphing, and reading, interpreting and paraphrasing the scientific literature.
  • Student who would like to take a biology course over the summer at another college need to consider the following when considering a course:
    • The course must be an introductory ‘survey’ course, meaning that it cannot address only specific elements of one field of biology (a microbiology or human physiology course, for example, would not suffice).
    • The course must have an associated lab.
    • A Transfer Course Permit form should be filled out (download one here, or pick one up from the Registrar’s Office in the Basement of Bunting) and a copy of the course description printed. These documents should then be brought to the chair of the biology department for approval before registering for the course.