Review of Life Sciences Concentrations Presented to Faculty

Steven S. Lee

The percentage of graduates in the life sciences concentration has risen in the last decade and has experienced a sizeable increase when compared to peer institutions.

The number of biology concentrators at Harvard College has risen by 44 percent in the last decade, a sizeable increase when compared to Yale, Stanford, and Princeton, according to a review of the life sciences concentration cluster. The review was presented at the monthly meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tuesday afternoon.

The report is the first major evaluation of the life sciences concentration since the formation of the Life Sciences cluster in 2006, when the two existing life sciences departmentsBiology and Chemistrywere reorganized into nine distinct concentrations.

“This represents a cross-departmental discussion...within the life sciences that really got started in 2004,” chairman of the Board of Life Sciences Concentrations Robert A. Lue said of the review at Tuesday’s meeting.

In 2005, life sciences faculty also began implementing a new set of advising procedures and significantly reworking introductory courses such as Life Sciences 1a and Life Sciences 1b.

“We wanted an opportunity...to address what we thought were some standing problems that we thought were evident in student advising,” Lue added.

Student interest and satisfaction have both increased since the restructuring of concentrations and advising within the life sciences. In 2012, the life sciences concentrations graduated 52 percent more students than in 2006. Concentration satisfactiona major concern before the restructuringhas also risen significantly, according to the report.

“Bio majors were always the least satisfied in [satisfaction] surveys [before 2006],” Lue said at the meeting. “The college has improved its student satisfaction ratings across a broad range...and Life Sciences is now in many parameters above the college.”

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