2013-14 Catalog

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Scientific Inquiry

The faculty of the Scientific Inquiry (SI) planning unit is committed to integrating science and mathematics into an Evergreen student’s liberal arts education. We help students—whatever their primary interests may be—understand the wonders of nature and appreciate the power of science and math in our technological society.

Because science, math, and technology are essential in our world, citizens must be scientifically and quantitatively literate in order to participate effectively in a democratic society. At the same time, scientists should understand the social implications and consequences of their work. Thus, our study of science itself integrates with the study of the history and philosophy of science, ethics, and public policy.

We support students learning math and science as part of their interdisciplinary liberal arts education. Whether a first-year or more advanced student, all students can find a variety of ways to fit math and science into their academic plans. Some students may simply want to explore the wonder and application of math or science in an interdisciplinary context, such as in programs that combine art and science or writing and mathematics. Some may choose to follow a pathway that emphasizes a particular science – we offer programs that provide beginning, intermediate and advanced work in all the major scientific disciplines. We help students prepare for graduate study and careers in math, science, medicine, allied health, and technology.

Scientific Inquiry offerings emphasize the application of theory to practice. Students taking a science or math program generally engage in individual or small-group project work that, depending on the discipline, might involve lab or field work. Students of mathematics and computer science learn rigorous mathematical thinking in a variety of contexts, ranging from proofs of theorems to application. By engaging in laboratory and group problem-solving exercises, students apply mathematical and scientific principles as they learn to solve theoretical and real-world problems. Students learn to think like scientists—to develop hypotheses, design experiments, collect data and see patterns, analyze findings within a theoretical framework, read scientific literature, write technical reports and papers, and to apply these skills to new situations. Our students have unique opportunities to use high-quality instruments, such as the scanning electron microscope and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. In addition, they can use some of the best modern software available. Students also have many opportunities to do scientific research on faculty research teams under the Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry program. Research students routinely present their work at scientific meetings and co-author technical papers.

Scientific Inquiry students have an excellent record of success in graduate and professional schools, as well as working in a variety of scientific and technical fields. The possibilities are limited only by your energy and ambition.

We usually offer recurring programs with significant content in each of the main scientific disciplines annually or in alternate years and we also create new offerings on a regular basis, as shown below. Many Scientific Inquiry programs also have components that can fulfill math and science endorsement requirements for Evergreen’s Master’s in Teaching program. Refer to the individual program descriptions for more details about these and other programs.