Systems/Holistic Biology  

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Systems Biology  (Bio-112)

 Lake Tahoe Community College


“We can’t solve problems


                      by using the same kind of thinking we used


                                          when we created them. "  

                                                                               Albert Einstein

Today we face environmental and social problems of ever-increasing complexity. Our planet now hosts over  seven billion humans compared to only about one billion in  1900.  The crush of humans has caused an enormous  negative impact on oceans, terrestrial systems and the atmosphere.  Some   of    the  seemingly intractable problems  are    desertification,     bleaching  of coral  reefs,  destruction  of vast  expanses  of   forests  by  fire  and bark beetles,   climate  change,  invasive species, spread of exotic diseases (ebola, West Nile Virus),  and depletion of fisheries.   


Increasing    numbers   of  scientists  have recognized  that  these  kinds of problems  are not solved by addressing them in isolation with traditional approaches, but should  be  seen   for what they are - richly connected, nonlinear, complex systems (See the simplified causal loop diagram above, illustrating the connection between the extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta Canada and the devastating bark beetle epidemic in British Columbia. ) Without  a holistic perspective informing our solutions of these complex environmental problems, we can expect to see  little gain from our continued efforts and possibly severe unintended consequences.  Fortunately, an interdisciplinary body of knowledge, generally called systems science, has matured over the last few decades which provides promise.  A perspective, and set of tools, have emerged from that body of knowledge to offer an integrated, holistic  approach to finding solutions to these entangled problems.   This  systems  biology  course   is designed   to provide a first  step  for  students  and  practitioners  to  acquire  the necessary systems/holistic  perspective, systems thinking,  and systems  tools to address our complex future.


Click on SYLLABUS above to see the details of the course.