At Swarthmore College, learning about biology is doing biology.
At all levels of our curriculum, students are engaged in learning about the functions and evolution of diverse biological systems as well as the methods by which biologists study nature. Almost every course has weekly laboratories, taught by full-time faculty members, where students learn to become biologists by making original observations, asking questions about life processes, and designing and performing their own experiments. Scientific communication skills are emphasized in all biology courses, as students read and evaluate research articles in scientific journals, write laboratory reports according to the standards of professional scientific writing, and participate in frequent opportunities for oral presentations and critical discussion.
The curriculum prepares students to pursue careers in research and medicine or to apply their biology interests to careers as diverse as governmental policy planning, science education, public health, museum exhibit design, and writing children's books. Our advanced seminars are centered on current research in eleven different fields that span the biological disciplines. In each seminar, students present and analyze current research papers and perform substantial research projects of their own design. Students regularly present the results of their research to the campus community and at regional and national meetings.