SCI 110 : Science vs Pseudoscience

Every day the public is faced with news of new scientific findings that have a great impact on our lives and health - from the latest causes of cancer to the dire predictions of climate science. This course is aimed at Sustainability majors and non-science majors, to help them gain an understanding of how science is done. Topics will include the peer review process, common experimental designs, the importance of sample size, interpreting graphs and statistics, and the role of the media in conveying science. This course will provide students with the tools to help them critically evaluate science in the news. Three lecture hours per week.


After completion of this course, students should be able to: 1. Explain the basic features of the scientific process - such as peer review, hypothesis generation, and controlled experimentation. 2. Critically read and evaluate secondary sources of science news. 3. Distinguish between science and pseudoscience based on criteria relating to the process of science.

SCI 112 : Principles of Ecology

An introduction to basic principles of ecology. The interaction of abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems are discussed as well as the effects of human intervention. Some labs are field trips. Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Explain the process of ecological change both in the long term (evolutionary change) and in the short term (succession).
  2. Utilize the tools of science through ecological field study focused on local ecosystems in Southeastern Massachusetts.
  3. Analyze data, modeling the way in which scientist handle data, including the use of statistical methods and computers for analysis of data sets.
4. Compile scientific findings using the primary methods by which scientists communicate with their peers including composing original research papers, oral presentations and poster presentations.

SCI 113 : Physical Science

This course introduces non-science majors to the physical sciences. It focuses on selected topics from chemistry, physics, geology, and astronomy. Students apply scientific method in the laboratory and learn proper laboratory safety. Prerequisite: Introductory Algebra competency or high-school algebra. Three class hours and two laboratory hours per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Design and perform scientific experiments using of the principles of the scientific method to make observations, collect and analyze data, and present findings.
  2. Describe and explain the universality of the laws of physics including the concepts of motion, force and universal gravitation.
  3. Describe the basic structure of an atom, and using that structure, explain elements, isotopes, the types of chemical bonds and creation of compounds.
  4. Explain the causes of earthquakes and volcanos and using the theory of plate tectonics, describe the natural forces working to shape planet Earth.
5. Make and use accurate scientific measurements.

SCI 115 : Science and Care of Plants

This course is an introduction to the basic principles of plant science (structure, function, growth requirements, etc.) as a basis for consideration of topics of greater practical interest (e.g., horticultural techniques, uses of plants, identifying plants, landscaping). Three lecture hours and two laboratory hour per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


1. Describe and apply the scientific method to address observations and problems. 2. Identify and describe the common uses of plants by people. 3. Describe biological systematics and taxonomic organization of plants. 4. Compare and contrast the major families of cultivated plants. 5. Recognize, describe, and illustrate the morphological structures of plants. 6. Classify and describe the different kinds of flowers, fruits, and seeds. 7. Discuss and explain the physiology of plants, including photosynthesis. 8. Conduct and interpret physical and chemical soil analysis.

SCI 116 : Science, Technology, and Society: The Chemistry of Hazardous Toxic Materials

This course explores the theories and fundamentals of how and why fires start, spread and are controlled. The course includes an examination of the chemical requirements for combustion, the chemistry of fuels and explosive mixtures. Also, the various methods of stopping combustion, and an analysis of the properties affecting fire behavior. Three lecture hours and three laboratory hours per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. (FESHE Approved) Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Identify physical properties of three states of matter.
  2. Categorize the components of a fire.
  3. Explain the chemical and physical properties of fire.
  4. Describe and apply the process of burning by explaining the fundamental theories of fire behavior and combustion.
  5. Define and use the basic terms and concepts associated with the chemistry and dynamics of fire.
  6. Discuss various materials and their relationship to fires as fuel.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of water as an agent for suppressing fire.
  8. Articulate the differences between the various types of extinguishing agents.
  9. Compare other agents and strategies that can be used for fire suppression.

SCI 117 : History and Philosophy of Science

A survey of the philosophical, political, economic and social underpinnings of science since ancient times. The major focus of the course is on the period since the sixteenth century and on the conceptual framework within which scientists in each age have had to work. Three lecture hours per week. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Global and Historic Awareness and Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Describe science as a method for knowing about the world, and distinguish between speculation, hypotheses, and theories.
  2. Evaluate scientific discoveries and views of science within the context of historical time periods, cultural developments, and political climates.
  3. Explain what is meant by “paradigm” and “paradigm shift” in the context of science and scientific revolutions.
  4. Summarize the contributions to science made by “non-scientists” and scientists throughout history.
5. Explain the development of scientific inquiry and discoveries as collaborative and cumulative efforts.

SCI 119 : Coastal Science

An overview of the physical and biological structure of our southern New England coastline and the factors, including humans, which act on it. Particular emphasis will be given to consideration of the processes which shape the shoreline and to the biology and ecology of the most significant organisms of coastal communities such as salt marshes, sand dunes, rock shores and beaches. There will be several field trips to study local examples of the features and communities discussed. Prerequisite: One year of high school laboratory science or one semester of college laboratory science. Three lecture hours and three laboratory hours per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the geology and ecology of the coastal environment with specific reference to the coastal zone of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  2. Contrast and compare the roles of Plate Tectonics and Glaciation as forces that have shaped the geology of coastal New England; distinguish the relative time scales of these two processes.
  3. Describe how the coast of New England has been, and continues to be modified by waves and tidal processes, changing the topography left behind by the Pleistocene glaciers.
  4. Compare and contrast the various ecological habitats that are common in coastal New England, such as beaches and dunes, rocky shores, mud flats, estuaries and saltmarshes with respect to physical and chemical conditions, and with respect to the types of species found in each habitat.
  5. Distinguish among the major groups of living organisms found in coastal New England, and use proper scientific terminology to place them into correct categories.
6. Analyze data and conclusions in library and internet resources related to the Coastal Zone, and compile summaries of those resources.

SCI 125 : Social and Ethical Issues in Science, Technology, and Health Science

This course will explore the ethical and social issues that scientists encounter during the process of scientific investigation. This course covers topics from many scientific disciplines, including biology, medicine, physics, and astronomy. Students are exposed to the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary scientific investigation and to the ethical dilemmas that can arise when scientific advances have ambiguous implications for improving the quality of life. Class sessions emphasize student discussions and use case studies and written assignments as a format for promoting critical discussions of complex topics. Participation in this course will encourage the student to develop his/her own ethical views regarding science and technology, and will foster awareness of multiple perspectives on ethical issues in the sciences and on the role of scientific integrity in research. Three lecture hours per week. Instructional Support Fee applies.


After successful completion of this course, students should be ale to: 1. Develop ethical reasoning skills. 2. Identify instances of scientific misconduct and the appropriate consequences. 3. Demonstrate appropriate scientific record keeping and understand its importance. 4. Discuss scientific authorship and the peer review process. 5. Understand and identify conflicts of interest. 6. Discuss the use of and ethical issues surrounding humans and animals in research. 7. Engage in informed discussions about current topics in all areas of natural science.

SCI 240 : Introduction to Oceanography

This course is a study of the inter-relationships among geological, chemical, physical, and biological processes and systems in the world's oceans. Emphasis is placed on methods of the collection of oceanographic data as well as its interpretation and significance to the current world problems, including global climate change. The course is designed for students with a strong interest in the marine environment who have some preliminary background in one of the traditional areas of environmental science, namely biology, chemistry, or geology. Although the course does not require advanced mathematical skills, lab exercises may require simple computations, graphing, and map reading. Prerequisite: One semester of a college-level laboratory science with a grade of C or better, or completion of CHM 090 with a grade of B or better, or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week. Instructional Support Fee applies. Gen. Ed. Competencies Met: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery.


  1. Compare and contrast the interactions among the Earth’s hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and biosphere with respect to sources and sinks of gases, heat exchange, and the cycles of nutrients important to living organisms.
  2. Compare and contrast the roles of plate tectonics, weathering and erosion on the shape and position of the continental masses and ocean basins with respect to the relative time scales and overall significance of each of these processes.
  3. Summarize the overall contributions of surface currents and the thermohaline circulation to the distribution of salinity and temperature on a worldwide basis.
  4. Evaluate the role of living organisms in the biosphere as contributors to the chemical nature of seawater, and explain their role in the recycling of gases and nutrients.
  5. Predict how the Oceans may play an integral role in moderating climate change caused by the actions of natural forces and the specific actions of humans, as well as how climate change may lead to significant alterations in the size and shape of the ocean basins and the chemistry of seawater.
6. Compile scientific reports that demonstrate proper use of internet and library sources, as well as application of the scientific method to oceanographic data.

SCI 251 : Honors Seminar: Emerging Paradigms in Science, Humanities, and Culture

This course is a broad overview of some of the latest discoveries and leading perspectives in contemporary science, as well as their potential impact on society, culture, education, and public policy. Topics covered in the course may include quantum physics, chaos, and fractal theory, epigenetics, cosmology, consciousness studies, neurobiology, artificial intelligence, and others. The course is also cross-disciplinary in that it explores the potential impact of these discoveries on contemporary society, culture and the environment. Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisite: Open to Commonwealth Honors Program students only.


1. Understand and explain some radical discoveries of modern science and their implications for our current worldview. 2. Identify and implement some new ways of living that are emerging at the forefront of our culture at this time. 3. Appreciate the nature of the paradigm shift we are presently experiencing and begin to speculate on their own leadership role in moving forward.

SCI 290 : Natural Sciences Directed Research

This is a hands-on practical course designed to train students in a specific area of Natural Sciences. The course will consist of individual research that will be supervised by a faculty member, who will define the area of study with each student in concert with mentors from the particular field of study. Some examples of these fields include: Microbiology, Food Sciences and Nutrition, Marine Biology, Ecology, Biotechnology, Immunology, Cell Biology, Structural Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Animal Behavior/Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Agriculture, Physics and Astronomy. The instruction will be conducted both on campus and at selected field sites. Predetermined outcomes and assessment procedures must be identified prior to the training. Students will present their research at the end of the semester in the form of oral and/or written reports, which could include presenting their findings at national scientific conferences. Prerequisite(s): Students must have completed at least one of the following courses with a minimum grade of C or better: AGR 115, ANS 205, BIO 122, BIO 234, BIO 235; BIO 239, BIO 240, BIO 241, BIO 250, CHM 114, CHM 116, CHM 225, CHM 236. Instructional Support Fee applies. 10-15 laboratory hours per week.


Upon completion of this course, students will: 1. Implement the Scientific Method 2. Design and carry out a research project 3. Present findings in a comprehensive report and/or oral presentation 4. Demonstrate communication skills/scientific communication skills 5. Demonstrate critical thinking skills 6. Demonstrated proficiency of applicable laboratory or computational techniques 7. Perform data analysis