Interdisciplinary Science Program
The Interdisciplinary Science Program (ISP) is an innovative, non-major curricular program designed to broaden and enrich the study of science and mathematics by exploring both the links between the various scientific disciplines and their connection with the external world. Designed and supported by faculty in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Neuroscience and Physics, the core of the ISP consists of a team-taught seminar and a research apprenticeship, both in the first year, and a course investigating the impact of science and technology on public policy.
The two-year program is open to a select group of students who possess exceptional scientific and mathematical aptitude, who are strongly motivated to succeed academically, and who are especially eager to study science and mathematics within the context of a liberal arts education. The goal of the program is to provide participants both a broader understanding of the nature of scientific activity and the opportunity to foster their interest in science by engaging in research early in their academic career.
Students enrolled in the ISP participate in special courses distributed across three semesters. They begin the program in the fall of their first year in a team-taught Interdisciplinary Science Seminar. The seminar focuses on an aspect of science that is common to all areas of science, mathematics, and engineering. Previous topics have included dynamical systems, chaos and fractals, hypothesis testing and experimental design in science, the process of measurement and mathematical modeling in the natural sciences. In the spring term, each student selects from a list of research topics in the participating departments and serves as a Research Apprentice, participating in a project with a faculty member and possibly junior and senior science majors. Students thus gain insight into the work of scientists, learn the research protocols of a particular discipline, and engage in scientific research as a group activity. During the sophomore year, students enroll in a final ISP course, "Public Policy Choices in Science and Technology," which explores the impact of scientific discoveries and advances in technology on public policy decisions. Topics for this seminar have included health and human rights, reproductive technology, the greenhouse effect, AIDS in the year 2000, and the future costs of energy.
While the ISP is intended primarily for students who plan to major in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics, it is designed to be compatible with every major at the College. Completion of the ISP satisfies the integration of knowledge requirement.
The program can accommodate only a limited number of students: approximately 24 in each entering class. Applicants for admission to Trinity who are interested in the program can send e-mail to the Admissions Office or the Science Alliance Liaison, Suzanne O'Connell for further details.
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