講師VASSILEVA Maria Niko Associate Professor
開講部局G30 2018年度 後期
対象者1st-year G30 students from Science, Engineering and Agriculture.

Course Overview

This is one-semester long discussion-based seminar course. Students work in teams to research specific topics of interest and present them in class.

The aim of this course is to widen students' perspective on biology-related issues.

The course is centered on several themes connecting biology with other sciences and social issues.

The course will provide practice opportunities to organize and present one' s viewpoint, and debate it at an open forum. Special emphasis is given to teamwork skills development and ability to provide feedback in a respectful manner.

One more integrated experience in this course is reading a book on a theme connecting biology with society (books provided by course instructor), and developing a book review to present in class.

Course Requirements

This course is officially open to 1st-year G30 students from Science, Engineering and Agriculture.


No textbooks are required for this course

Further details on course structure and content

A. In-class discussions and presentations structure:

For each class meeting students will be separated in groups randomly.

Each group will choose a topic within the theme designated for the class. Students are expected to do a research on the theme before hand and come prepared with one or several possible topics to work on. The actual topic is a choice of the group, below are only suggestions.

Groups are given 40 minutes to agree on a topic and brainstorm it.

Final goal: to prepare an informative presentation.
The presentation can be in any form the group finds appropriate, including but not limited to slides presentation.

Time limit for presentation: 15 min. (In case of presentation slides: Aim at max10 slides.)

Presentation Structure:

  • Title (state clearly the topic)
  • Main part (information on the topic, presented in logical sequences; objectively presented opposing opinions; references to the source of information)

B. Themes and suggested topics

(The topics are just to give a few ideas; any other topic within the theme is welcome)

  1. Biology and Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Math

    • How discoveries in Chemistry/Physics/Engineering/Math have shaped Biology research direction (discovery of microscope, X-rays etc.)
    • How technology has changed the way we look at or make discoveries in Biology
  2. Biology and Arts

    • How visual arts have contributed to the knowledge of Biology (ancient Egyptian/Greek sculptures and anatomy of human body, are anatomical drawings/exhibits a form of art?)
    • Our senses are filters of our ability to perceive the world around us what implication this brings on art forms?
    • How literature has been representing biology? What we can learn about biology from science fiction?
  3. Biology and Media
    - How biological research is misrepresented on media and the effect this has on our lifestyle and life-long decisions; what knowledge/training in Biology do journalists have?
    - Evolution – how science is interpreted, its relation to religion and society
    - How much of the history of science are we exposed to – political history has changed hot spots of scientific research (Greeks, Ancient China, Islamic world, Europe, US etc.), yet we hardly hear about names of scientists outside the “western world”.
    - The science of marketing – emotions and branding; brands are taping into customers’ emotions – how do they do that and why it works (limbic system/dopamine system and emotions, how this relates to entertainment)?

  4. Biology and Politics

    • Has politics anything to do with biology?
    • Has politics anything to do with agriculture?
    • How contemporary political maps have been shaped by biological phenomena?
    • How government policies have changed the way we grow – and consume – our food?
  5. Biology and Ethics

    • What the philosophical notion of ethics has to do with biology? Or doesn't?
    • Where religious or cultural ethics/customs crashes with biological principles? What do we do (or do not do) to resolve it? Examples: heterosexuality, first-kin marriages, cannibalism, use of experimental animals in science and pharma etc.
  6. Biology and Environment

    • Environmental issues and economics
    • Biodiversity and why it matters
    • Is there really any global warming and do we really have to be concerned?
  7. Biology and Sex

    • Biology of sex and culture of sex – same or different? What are the differences?
    • Hormones and libido
    • Sex is in the brain, perceptions of male and females – consent, abuse, porn
    • Objectifications and rape – the culture, the perceptions, the history; what we do to stop that?
    • Ovarian cycle and contraception, how do different methods of contraception work?
    • Abortion – what is controversial about it and why?
    • Biological explanation of love – and lust – are they the same or different?


Group and individual presentations form 40% of total grade for the course; individual participation in discussions is 40% of final grade, individual book review is 20% of final grade.

Course Schedule

Session Content
1 Introduction to course
2 Self-introductions
3 Biology and Chemistry, Physics, Engineering,Math
4 Biology and Arts
5 Biology and Media
6 Biology and Politics
7 Biology and Ethics
8 Biology and Environment
9 Biology and Sex
10 Free topic (students` choice of theme)
11 Free topic (instructor`s choice of theme)
12 Free topic (instructor`s choice of theme)
13 Book review presentations
14 Book review presentations
15 Book review presentations


May 17, 2020