Biological Sciences and New College: A Relationship That Makes Each Department Stronger

For more than 50 years, New College has been the place where University of Alabama students have found a home for the creative expression of their academic desires. New College is an interdisciplinary program where students develop their own course of study.

There has been a long-standing relationship between the Department of Biological Sciences and New College, one that includes the cross appointment of faculty between our two units, course offerings that serve the needs of Biology students, and the development of internship programs that broaden our students’ skills, which makes them more competitive as they enter the work force. For example, New College houses the Natural Resources minor, and students can take courses in Environmental Science topics covering forestry, wildlife, birding, and waterways. New College also offers interdisciplinary courses like Environmental Ethics and Policy, which allow students to extend their existing scientific biological knowledge into the realm of humanities.

Dr. Julia Cherry, New College Chair and Professor of Biological Science, explains, “as new fields of biology continue to emerge, New College provides an opportunity for students to design their own majors that historically fall outside those of a normal academic department.” Two areas that have seen a large growth are New College’s new Neuroscience Major and the STEM business program. New College has acted as an incubator to help students develop their courses of study in these two areas, where classes are taken across several departments and colleges on campus, including several foundational classes that are part of the biology curriculum.

Another common goal of our two departments is to increase science literacy across our community through the development of several initiatives and courses. As part of New College’s LifeTrack course offerings, students can learn about controversies in science, biomimicry, and biodiversity. The aim of these courses is to increase science literacy, and they do so by providing links to current scientific discoveries in biology labs both at UA and across the world.