The mission of the Department of Biology is to provide students the opportunity to explore the science of life, in all its complexity and diversity, within the tradition of the liberal arts. We are committed to excellence in our teaching and research programs. We strive to develop each student's ability to acquire and critically interpret knowledge of basic facts and theories of biology, to relate that knowledge to other subject areas in the liberal arts, to add to the body of biological knowledge through research, and to communicate his or her understanding to others both within and outside the field of biology. We take pride in our innovative approaches in the laboratory and our availability to students. In the laboratory and in the field, students work in small groups directly with the faculty. We offer a variety of upper-level courses in each area, and we are well equipped to offer laboratory and field courses throughout the curriculum.
Full Mission Statement:
(Adopted December 8, 1995)
The mission of the Biology Department at Middlebury College is to provide students the opportunity to explore life, in all its complexity and diversity, within the tradition of the Liberal Arts. We are committed to excellence in our teaching and research programs.
The department is committed to helping students acquire:
- a knowledge of basic facts and theories in biology,
- the ability to interpret critically this knowledge and to relate it to other subject areas in the Liberal Arts,
- the ability to add to the body of biological knowledge through 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 research environment for both students and faculty. 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 allow students choice among a range of sub-disciplines that span all levels of biological organization.
Electives should provide opportunities for students to customize their majors to achieve their own educational goals.
Some electives from all sub-disciplines should be offered each year.
Cognates should provide tools and interdisciplinary perspectives necessary to allow students to function as biologists.
Prerequisites for courses should provide the preparation necessary to be successful in the courses.
2) To place biological knowledge in context.
Both majors and non-majors should be introduced to the way biologists think and the historical development of biological thought, not just to the results of that 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 each course, 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 the courses necessary 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.
Each introductory course should be offered each semester.
All students should have access to an introductory biology course each semester.
All courses required as part of joint majors and related programs should be offered at least once each year.
All courses that serve as electives for the major, joint majors, and related programs should be offered at least once every other year.
Enrollment in the lecture portion of each course should be under 100 students.
The enrollment and format of laboratory sections should be appropriate for the sub-discipline.
The department should provide courses that serve as foundations for subsequent post-graduate education, including medical and graduate school.
The College's commitment to library holdings, particularly journal acquisition, should reflect the nature of the department's mission.
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.
The department should maintain an active program of visiting scholars who interact with students and faculty.
Faculty should have enough flexibility in their schedules to be able to participate in the first-year seminar program at least once every four years.
Each faculty member should teach in the introductory instructional program for the department or for interdisciplinary programs supported by the department, but should also have the opportunity to teach advanced level courses in their sub-discipline each year.
Assistants-in-Instruction should be available for all introductory courses.
Preparators should be available for all courses in which media, culture, animal, or plant preparation is necessary.
7) To provide opportunities for students to participate in faculty research.
Faculty should engage in active research programs, including professional presentation of results, that can include undergraduate participation.
Faculty should not be required to address so much of their energy to teaching and community service that their scholarship is no longer progressive.