2004-2005
UNDERGRADUATE RECORD
College of Arts and Sciences
General Information  |  Academic Information  |  Departments and Programs  |  Faculty
Course Descriptions

Program in Human Biology

University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400328
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328
(434) 982-5803
www.virginia.edu/humanbiology

Overview Studies and advances in biology have had broad societal implications for as long as this discipline has existed. Over the centuries, debates have raged about when human life begins. The elucidation of evolutionary theory in the nineteenth century focused attention on the seminal questions of the origins of life and the human species, and had a profound influence on the way we view the development of society. Recent breakthroughs in contemporary biology including the human genome project, stem-cell research, and mammalian cloning, raise numerous ethical and regulatory questions. The increased longevity resulting from medical advances poses major challenges as our society must allocate increasing resources for an expanding elderly population. The spread of viruses such as HIV and Ebola, the increasing prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacteria, and the specter of pathogens being utilized as agents of bioterrorism, raise daunting social and scientific questions. Human-generated pollution contributes to many cancers, ironically just at a time when we have made enormous strides in elucidating the molecular causes of this disease and developing new therapies.

Addressing such issues, questions, and challenges requires not only an understanding of biology, but an appreciation of its context within the humanities and the social sciences. The interdisciplinary, distinguished, major in Human Biology, which draws on faculty from virtually every school at the University, provides students with the opportunity to study the extraordinary interplay between modern biology and society. This program will prepare a select group of students to address ethical, legal and policy issues raised by developments in the life sciences. The major requires a solid foundation in biology and interrelated, complementary courses in the social sciences and humanities. Students will integrate their studies through participating in a capstone seminar, co-taught by faculty from several schools and departments, and by writing a thesis that encompasses scientific, ethical, legal, and policy issues relevant to the student’s topic of independent study. The human biology major will prepare students for further post-graduate studies or careers in law, medicine, bioethics, public health, national and international health policy, the health evaluation sciences, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

Students The major is comprised of outstanding, creative, independent, and enthusiastic students with diverse backgrounds in biology, the social sciences and humanities who wish to pursue an intellectually challenging and genuinely interdisciplinary program. Approximately 20 students will be admitted into the program during the spring semester of their second year. Students are chosen based on their academic record; a statement describing the student’s purpose and goals in pursuing this major and how it will prepare them for their immediate post-graduate academic or career plans; and a faculty recommendation. During their fourth year, students will participate in a one semester capstone seminar course and a one semester thesis writing course. These small enrollment courses will facilitate interactions among students and faculty representing diverse interests and areas of expertise.

Faculty Although the major will be administered through the Department of Biology, other departments and centers including: Anthropology, Environmental Science, Politics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, the Institute for Practical Ethics, and the Center for Global Health, will play significant roles. Faculty from several departments will administer and participate in the major. The program co-directors are Robert Grainger and Elizabeth Machunis-Masuoka, Dept. of Biology. Other faculty associated with the program and its advisory committee include: James Childress of Religious Studies, Ruth Gaare Bernheim of the Institute for Practical Ethics and the Public Health Program, John Arras of Philosophy, and Susan McKinnon of Anthropology. The interdisciplinary nature of this program will enable numerous faculty throughout the University community to participate in courses and to serve as advisors and mentors.

Requirements for Major The major has six basic components:

1.

Core courses

9 credits

2.

Biology electives

6 credits

3.

Statistics

3 credits

4.

Independent Research or Study

3 credits

5.

Capstone Seminar Course and Thesis

6 credits

6.

Related courses

12 credits

Core Courses Each student must complete the following courses:

RELG 265

Theology, Ethics, and Medicine

3 credits

BIOL 300

Core I: Cell and Molecular Biology

3 credits

BIOL 301

Core II: Genetics and Evolution

3 credits

Students considering the human biology major should complete the following prerequisites for BIOL 300 and BIOL 301 during their first two years: BIOL 201, BIOL 202, CHEM 141/141L (or CHEM 181/181L), CHEM 142/142L (or CHEM 182/182L). Advanced placement credit can substitute for one or more of these prerequisites as appropriate.

GPA Requirement for Distinction All students must maintain an overall GPA of at least a 3.400, and a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.400 in all courses counted towards the major, throughout the fourth year in order for distinction to be awarded with the degree.

Biology Electives Each student must complete two additional BIOL courses (6 hours) at the 300 level or higher. Selected topics (BIOL 385 or BIOL 386) or independent research (BIOL 491-498) courses cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. These courses will be chosen based on the student’s interests and in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Statistics Each student must complete a 3-credit course in statistics. Any one of the following courses will satisfy this requirement: STAT 110, STAT 112, SOC 311, PSYC 305, PSYC 306, ECON 371, ANTH 589, EVSC 503.

Independent Research or Study Each student must complete two semesters of independent research (HBIO 497 and HBIO 498) for a total of 3 credits applied toward the major. Projects may be pursued in any department of the College of Arts and Sciences and must be completed under the direction of two faculty advisors, one of whom will be from the Biology department. Projects proposed for outside the College will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. This research will provide the foundation for the student’s thesis and will be completed during the fourth year. Students are encouraged, however, to begin research in their third year. All students must submit a Thesis Declaration Form, approved by both faculty advisors, to the co-directors of the program by the beginning of the first semester, fourth year.

Capstone Seminar Course and Thesis Students will complete 6 credits consisting of HBIO 481 and HBIO 482 during their fourth year. The thesis will be a substantial, independent year-long project that builds upon the student’s coursework and independent research or study.

Related Courses Each student must complete four upper-level (300 level or higher; 200-level courses may be submitted for the area requirements in certain cases with prior approval from the major advisor) courses (12 credits) that integrate biology with the social sciences and/or humanities. While all courses applied to the major must be relevant to human biology, students are encouraged to take a wide range of courses to round out their studies. Courses will be chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor and will provide an in depth exposure to a particular area of concentration. It is assumed that each student will develop a unique focus of study, examining their topic of interest from a variety of disciplines. This coursework and independent research or study will be the basis for the student’s thesis. Examples of area concentrations students could develop include, but are not limited to:

Area Concentration in Bioethics This area concentration might focus on an ethical and philosophical discourse of biomedical research and practice with respect to all participants in the medical/society partnership. Examples of courses that could be taken include PHIL 359 Research Ethics, RELG 386 Human Bodies and Parts as Property, and PHIL 453 Ethics in Human Reproduction.

Area Concentration in Science, Technology and Public Policy This area concentration could be designed to examine historical and contemporary issues in the process, conduct and applications of science and technology, in terms of both general societal implications and policy issues. Courses that could be taken include HIEU 332 The Scientific Revolution, EVSC 465 Environmental Policy making in the United States, and PHIL 546 Philosophy of Science.

Area Concentration in Health Care Policy/Global Health This area concentration could be developed in many ways; for example, it could focus on different health care policy and resource allocation systems or issues of justice and global responsibility. Potential courses include ECON 416 Economics of Health Care, PHIL 365 Justice and Health Care, or SOC 426 Health Care Systems.

Admission Interested students currently in their fourth semester in the College of Arts and Sciences are invited to apply for admission to the Human Biology major. As this is a distinguished major, the program will admit only 20 new students a year and all applicants must have attained, and majors must maintain, a 3.400 or higher cumulative grade point average. It is highly recommended, but not mandatory, that prospective applicants complete the prerequisites for BIOL 300 and BIOL 301, and complete at least one of the core courses by the end of their second year. Students interested in applying to the major should submit:

  1. An official copy of the student’s transcript.
  2. A one page statement describing the student’s purpose and goals in pursuing this major and how it will prepare them for their immediate post-graduate academic or career plans.
  3. A letter of recommendation from an instructor, faculty advisor or dean.

All application materials should be submitted by March 1, to the Human Biology Program Coordinator, Department of Biology, 229 Gilmer Hall. Applications will be reviewed by the faculty advisory committee. Students accepted into the major will be notified by April 1. This will allow students to declare a major and select courses during the spring semester advising session. The program director holds an informational meeting for prospective majors in early February to answer questions pertaining to the application process and the major.

Additional Information For more information, contact one of the program directors: Robert Grainger, (434)-982-5495; rmg9p@ virginia.edu; or Elizabeth Machunis-Masuoka, (434)-982-5592; eam4n@virginia. edu; Department of Biology, Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400328, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4328, www.virginia.edu/humanbiology.


Course Descriptions

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Note: These courses are open only to Human Biology majors.

HBIO 495, 496 - (3) (Y)
Independent Research for Human Biology
Prerequisite: DMP in Human Biology.
Independent research/independent study under the guidance of a primary mentor within the College of Arts and Sciences. HBIO 495 and/or HBIO 496 may be taken as a preliminary year of research prior to the required fourth-year courses HBIO 497 and HBIO 498.

HBIO 481 - (3) (Y)
Capstone Seminar in Human Biology
Prerequisite: DMP in Human Biology.
A weekly seminar co-organized by participating faculty to integrate students’ independent research and coursework with contemporary issues at the intersection of biology, the humanities and social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to present their ongoing research and meet with outside speakers. This course will be taken in the fourth year.

HBIO 482 - (3) (Y)
Seminar and Thesis in Human Biology
Prerequisite: DMP in Human Biology.
A weekly discussion and workshop co-organized by participating faculty to provide guidance and advice to students on completing their research or independent study and writing their thesis. Occasional seminars and opportunities to meet outside speakers will continue in this semester. This course will be taken in the fourth year.

HBIO 497 - (3) (Y)
Thesis Research in Human Biology
Prerequisite: First-semester fourth-year DMP in Human Biology.
Independent research/independent study under the guidance of a primary mentor within the College of Arts and Sciences. Research/study forms the basis for the DMP thesis to be submitted at the end of the fourth year. This course must be taken in the first semester of the fourth year and should encompass the majority of the research for the thesis.

HBIO 498 - (3) (Y)
Thesis Research in Human Biology
Prerequisite: HBIO 497.
Independent research/independent study under the guidance of a primary mentor within the College of Arts and Sciences. Research/study forms the basis for the DMP thesis to be submitted at the end of the fourth year. This course must be taken following completion of HBIO 497 and represents completion of all aspects of the research project.


   
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