Systems/Holistic Biology  

Click here to edit subtitle


Systems/ Holistic Biology

Biology and/or environmental  science  curriculum   designed to  aid   students  in acquiring systems  tools  to   create  a sustainable future. 



This systems biology course is aimed at students in all majors. It will reveal secrets of natures design to art majors;  it will explore nature's solutions to problems of information processing  and communication for IT majors;  Humanities majors will gain tools to capture the essential dynamics of complex problems in systems/holistic narratives; Math majors will see mathematical models brought to life in computer simulations of natural systems;  Natural science majors will see  the systems biology perspective as a means to integrate natural systems with social-economic systems.


Concepts  will  be  presented  by way of  narrative, writing,  traditional mathematics, computational mathematics, and systems diagramming - a true multi-modal approach. Students may chose their learning modalities of choice.  The success of the course will depend upon a diversity of students offering their perspectives, thereby  enhancing our  learning across disciplines.  


More specifically, the course will present traditional biological concepts of cell function, genetics, evolution, population ecology, ecosystem function, and others, within a systems or holistic perspective. Students will use systems tools, including systems diagramming and computer simulations, to aid in the exploration of biological systems and current environmental problems - climate change, ecosystem collapse, population growth, ebola, and others.  Students will learn how to apply analytic, synthetic, holistic, and/or reductionist approaches where appropriate. Information theory will be introduced to bring into stark relief the central role of information processing in life.  An integrative view of the field of biology will emerge in this course, where disciplinary boundaries, both inside and outside of biology, are permeable.  From this framework, students will seamlessly cross disciplines to acquire fresh insights, integrating biology and other disciplines.


INSTRUCTORS:     Lecture: Fred Roberts                      

TEXTBOOKS:         Thinking in Systems by  Donella H. Meadows

                                The Insatiable Bark Beetles by Reese Halter


PREREQUISITES:  None, all majors wellcome.