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College of Arts and Sciences faculties voted to add a college-wide natural science study requirement

College of Arts and Sciences faculty voted in a meeting on Nov. 16 to require CAS students to complete a natural science course with a laboratory component in addition to standard Boston University HUB requirements.

BU hub
The Boston University Hub Office. College of Arts and Sciences faculty voted on Nov. 16 to require CAS students to complete a natural science requirement in addition to standard BU HUB requirements. MEGHANA PATNANA/DFP FILE

The new requirements will not affect current CAS students or newly admitted students in the upcoming coming academic year, as CAS faculty needs to consider how to implement the requirements. 

CAS faculties believe that CAS students should receive more education in natural sciences than current requirements, as the one HUB unit in Scientific Inquiry is insufficient, according to an email from Joseph Bizup, CAS associate dean for undergraduate academic programs and policies.

“Given the importance of the natural sciences in today’s world, we believe that all of our undergraduate students should acquire an understanding of the processes of scientific inquiry through actual experience conducting laboratory experiments,” Bizup wrote. “This process will take some time and the requirement will not go into effect until sometime after the coming academic year.”

Bizup added faculty at the Nov. 16 meeting also voted to continue suspending the Divisional Studies for another year, which was automatically supposed to be reinstituted after a five-year period. The requirements were initially suspended to put the HUB in place.

The Divisional Studies requires CAS students to take six one-semester courses, two in each of the three divisions outside the major — humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics & computer science.

Meers Oppenheim, professor of Astronomy in CAS, said although HUB requirements provide students with the opportunity to gain basic knowledge, they do not go as in depth as Divisional Studies.

“Since the institution of the HUB, students have been getting considerably less exposure to natural science,” Oppenheim said. “The faculty is not sure that’s a great thing.”

Oppenheim said he believes if Divisional Studies was restored, students would benefit from it. 

“Students need a certain level of fundamental understanding of mathematics and fundamental understanding of natural science, social science and humanities,” Oppenheim said, “to consider yourself a really broadly educated student, which is what the College of Arts and Sciences strives for.”

Oppenheim said the Divisional Studies, which is completely separate from the HUB, should still be compatible with HUB requirements.

“You got to make sure that the HUB and the Divisional are fully compatible and not a huge burden to the students for both programs, if we do reconstitute it,” Oppenheim said. “I think it’s doable, but it’s tricky.”

David Carballo, a professor of Anthropology, Archaeology and Latin American Studies in CAS, said although there is value in taking an additional science lab, he thinks restoring Divisional Studies is not good for students.

“I don’t think that adding all the other divisions back would be good for students,” Carballo said. “It would make CAS students’ lives very difficult and advising in the HUB very difficult.” 

He added he believes HUB requirements better prepare students for the world compared to Divisional Studies.

“The HUB is much more explicit about what we should learn in terms of breadth and what students should come away with in terms of skills that will prepare them better for the world of today,” Carballo said. “A lot of the value from going to university are these other skills that we would call transferable skills that you can take with you … that’s how the HUB is constructed.”

Carballo, who chaired the committee that created the social and scientific inquiry units, added although some science faculty members in CAS have dissatisfaction with HUB requirements, the HUB increased the number of students taking science classes.

“Before the HUB, there were many students, not in CAS, but in other schools and colleges that took no science,” Caraballo said. “Actually, because of the HUB, more BU students overall are taking science than they did before.”

Ryan Li, a sophomore in the Pardee School of Global Studies, CAS, said HUB requirements allow students to explore different subjects and allow non-science major students to develop a good understanding of science courses.

“If I were to take more science classes, I don’t see how it can help me in my career path in the future, but I think that students still should take some sort of (science) class,” Li said. “The requirements right now are sufficient.”

Eve Kleiber, sophomore in CAS, said she would be happy to take more science courses as a psychology major. 

“I’m happy to take some more science classes,” Kleiber said. “I know some kids probably wouldn’t though, like English majors, maybe they don’t want to take a science class extra.”

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One Comment

  1. I had trouble relating to the sciences. They were too technical.
    However,when professors used some examples such as how science affects the body made it relatable.
    Seems they could do same at CFA such as using principles of physics related to musical instruments. Or what is the science behind chemicals used to clean paintings or how are x rays used to see if there are other paintings below were painted over during medieval times
    Have to make it relatable