Biology Department Mission Statement

The mission of the Biology Department at Hartwick College is to provide students with the opportunity to explore life, from the smallest atoms to the largest ecosystems, within the tradition of the Liberal Arts. We are committed to excellence in our teaching and to giving our students "hands-on" training in Biology.

The department is committed to helping students acquire:

  •             a knowledge of basic facts and theories in biology,
  •             the ability to interpret this knowledge critically,
  •             the ability to participate in hands-on research, and
  •             the ability to communicate their understanding to others both within and outside of the field.

To achieve this mission the department must provide a suitable educational and laboratory environment for students. Therefore, the department has established the following goals:

1) To provide a comprehensive major.

Students in the department should complete introductory courses that cover the breadth of the discipline.  The major should require all students to take courses in a range of sub-disciplines that span all levels of biological organization.

Student choice of electives in the sub-disciplines should provide opportunities for students to customize their majors to achieve their own educational goals.

Some courses from all sub-disciplines should be offered each year.

Additional required courses from other departments (Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics) should provide tools and interdisciplinary perspectives necessary to allow students to function as biologists.

Students should plan and complete a Senior Thesis.

2) To place biological knowledge in context.

Both majors and non-majors should be introduced to the way biologists think and to the development of biological thought.

Introductory courses should be intellectually accessible to non-majors and should provide the necessary foundation for students continuing in the major.

Connections should be made at every opportunity between biological knowledge and other disciplines.

The department should participate in general education at the college by offering first-year seminars, writing courses, and non-majors science courses.  

3) To encourage active rather than passive learning.

Courses should emphasize investigative participation in science.

Students should be taught to think critically and to solve problems.

Students who have successfully completed appropriate preparatory courses should have the opportunity to pursue independent study and research.

4) To improve student communication skills.

Within courses, when appropriate, students should be required to make written and/or oral presentations.

Part of the student research experience should include formal writing and public presentation.

Faculty should work with students to improve their writing, emphasizing clarity and conciseness.

 5) To provide an effective system of student advising.

Students who consider majoring in biology, a related program, or a joint major should be made aware of the educational objectives, demands, and opportunities of these majors, so they can choose the one that best helps them achieve their personal goals.

Faculty should help students understand the requirements and opportunities, as well as the relative merits and disadvantages, of the various biological careers that they might eventually undertake.

Students should be made aware early in their undergraduate careers what courses they will need to take to prepare for their post-graduate goals.

 6) To provide access to courses and resources in Biology that meet the needs and demands of students and allow faculty and staff to carry out the Mission.

The introductory classes should be offered every year.

Enrollment in any laboratory section of any course should not exceed 24.

The department should provide courses that serve as foundations for subsequent post-graduate education, including medical and graduate school.

The College's commitment to information and research technology and support should be consistent with the department's mission.

The College's commitment to faculty development should reflect the nature of the department's mission.

Each faculty member should teach in the introductory instructional program when possible, but should also have the opportunity to teach advanced level courses in their sub-discipline each year.

7) To give Faculty the opportunity to participate in research, and provide research opportunities to students.

Faculty should engage in active research programs that can include undergraduate participation.  When possible this should include professional presentation of results.

Faculty should be provided with adequate space and facilities for student/faculty research.

Faculty should not be required to address so much of their energy to teaching and community service that their scholarship is no longer progressive.