Key Elements of the SUA Life Science Curriculum

Below in outline form are some of the key elements of the new Life Science curriculum at Soka University of America.

Integrated Biology and Chemistry Course. A new innovative interdisciplinary course will integrate the first-year course in chemistry and biology and will teach students greater efficiency and develop increased understanding in essential concepts in both subjects. The Integrated Biology and Chemistry course will be a year-long introductory course for our Life Science concentration and is patterned after a similar course developed at the Keck Science Department in Claremont, based on discussions with Science Advisory Board member Emily Wiley.

Interdisciplinary Project-Based Laboratory Courses. By developing a 3-unit inquiry-based laboratory course as a separate course, students will experience a more authentic learning environment that includes the authentic processes of scientific research than would be possible in a more typical 1-unit laboratory course. This course would be patterned after the new Stanford Biology laboratory courses and will let students design experiments and solve research problems over several weeks. The laboratory course will explore topics spanning multiple disciplines, such as Physics and Biology, or Biology and Chemistry. The course would feature a mix of in-class experiments, and independent work by students to acquire background, analyze results, and prepare presentations of results using techniques used in actual scientific research.

Single Semester Organic Chemistry + Biochemistry. An alternative to the traditional year-long organic chemistry sequence is a semester of Organic Chemistry followed by a semester of Biochemistry. This combination is now favored by leading undergraduate institutions for preparing pre-medical students and provides more background biochemistry which is critical within modern biology.

A New Physics for Life Science course. Rather that offering a physics course to prepare engineers or future physicists, our new Life Science concentration will develop course that will feature applications of physics in biological contexts. This course could fulfill the pre-medical physics requirements and prepare students for the MCAT, while also providing very interesting examples of physics in action within organisms.

In addition to these innovative curricular elements, the new Life Science concentration will feature advanced elective courses in many of the cutting-edge fields of modern Biology, and may offer courses in fields such as genomics, neuroscience, immunology and molecular biology.