Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences

Beginning Fall 2024, CMC is offering a new major in Integrated Sciences rooted in CMC’s special liberal arts mission “to prepare its students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions.” The new major is framed around three major themes: Human health, the brain, and our planet. The program is designed to offer CMC students an exceptionally strong background in the sciences using innovative pedagogies and curricular design. It leverages both experimentation and computation as powerful approaches for discovery and integrates CMC’s core strengths in the social sciences and humanities.

As of Fall 2024, Integrated Sciences will become CMC’s signature science major, replacing other science majors (e.g., in physics, chemistry, biology) which will no longer be offered. As a member of The Claremont Colleges, CMC students wishing to major in a science field other than Integrated Sciences can request a major at the W.M. Keck Science Department, Harvey Mudd College, or Pomona College. Acceptance into those majors is determined by those programs and is not guaranteed.

Students who matriculated to CMC in Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 will continue to take their science majors at the W.M. Keck Science Department.

Below is a FAQ about our new Integrated Sciences program.

 

The Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences is a new program rooted in CMC’s foundational liberal arts and leadership mission, and unique in its approach to organizing science education around global societal and scientific challenges. The program leverages computation as a powerful vehicle for insight and discovery and integrates CMC’s core strengths in the social sciences and humanities.

The Integrated Sciences curriculum provides our students with deep foundational knowledge by engaging with hands-on research experiences on current and relevant global societal and scientific problems rather than traditional “textbook” problems.

Through these kinds of open-ended explorations, students gain proficiency with experimental and computational methods, develop ability to reason about the relationships between the sciences and society, and sharpen skills in communicating science to a broad audience.

Every CMC student will take our innovative “Codes of Life” course as their first science course. This course integrates core concepts from biology and computing to explore topics with wide-ranging implications for global public health. Integrated Sciences majors will then take a set of foundational science courses that cover the equivalent of two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of physics, and an additional semester of biology, as well as a semester of machine learning and data science with applications to the natural sciences. Next, students will take a number of upper-division elective courses with the option of taking a set of courses in one of our three themes: Health, Brain, or Planet. Students pursuing pre-med or other pre-health options will take biochemistry and organic chemistry as two of their four upper-division electives.

The Kravis Department for Integrated Sciences will be housed in the Robert Day Sciences Center, a new building that is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2025. The iconic design by world-renowned architects at BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, provides extraordinary laboratory and teaching spaces and a welcoming and warm environment for collaborations between all members of our community.

The program embraces integration in three important ways:

  1. The science disciplines are integrated to provide students with the ability to confidently cross traditional natural science disciplinary boundaries;
  2. Computing and data science are integrated throughout our courses. In our new introductory science general education course, every student will learn to program in Python and use data science concepts. Students who continue in the sciences will become facile with more advanced techniques including artificial intelligence, machine learning, computational modeling, and others; and
  3. The connections between the social science, humanities, and the natural sciences are deeply integrated in our courses, research, and co-curricular programs.

The department is designed as a single, integrated program, with fewer barriers to interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaboration, and an underlying commitment to the core natural science disciplines of biology, chemistry, environmental analysis, neuroscience, and physics.  

Rather than being organized around traditional natural science disciplinary units, Integrated Sciences is structured around three global societal and scientific challenges: Health, Brain, and Planet

  • Health (Genomics, Systems Biology, and Health)- the exploration of molecular data to understand the function and regulation of genes, the biological systems they control, and the development of predictive models that ultimately contribute to improving human health;
  • Brain (Brain, Learning, and Decision)- the investigation of mental processes, behavior, and decision-making, including aspects of neuroscience, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning; and
  • Planet (Climate, Energy, and the Environment)- the examination of atmospheric processes and the chemical, physical, and biological aspects of climate change, and the interactions of human activities and the natural and built environments.

All three of these areas are interrelated and provide extraordinary opportunities to engage with issues of ethics, culture, policy, and economics.

Our program will continue CMC’s long tradition of providing outstanding preparation for students who wish to continue on to medical school and other health-related careers. All of the courses that a student needs for those pathways will be offered at KDIS, as well as advising on pre-health pathways. Specifically, after completing our “Codes of Life” course, students will take foundational courses equivalent to two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of physics, and an additional semester of biology. Additionally, students will take courses in biochemistry and organic chemistry. Our program will offer robust research opportunities and pre-health advising. Through CMC’s Soll Center for Student Opportunity, students will receive guidance and support in finding summer internship experiences.

Our program will also continue to prepare students to complete a 3+2 program in which a student spends 3 years at CMC and completes a BA in economics along with foundational preparation in the natural sciences and then transfers to a partnering engineering program to complete a BS in engineering in 2 additional years.

The program responds to a growing need for innovative and compelling science curricula for all students, regardless of their major.  This includes a “common on-ramp to the sciences,” through general education courses and creating meaningful conversations around the impact of science on society – for instance, in cross-disciplinary areas such as neuroeconomics, climate policy, bioethics, science journalism, and ethics.

The Integrated Sciences Advisory Council was formed last year and includes leaders from academia, industry, and non-profits. These experts are helping us with many facets of our program. Additionally, faculty from across the College are involved in many aspects of the new integrated science program to help build connections between the natural sciences, humanities, and the social sciences in both teaching and research.

Many employers seek recent graduates with the backgrounds and skills that our program will provide. Examples include biotech companies, environmental consulting firms, national laboratories, federal agencies, NGOs, and many others. Our students will also be well-prepared for many rapidly growing multidisciplinary graduate programs, including integrative and systems biology, dynamical neuroscience, and computational earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences. Medical schools, as well, are increasingly encouraging applications from students with such interdisciplinary science backgrounds.

Students matriculating to CMC in Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 will take their science majors at the W.M. Keck Science Department. 

Beginning in Fall 2024, Integrated Sciences will become CMC’s signature science major offered in the Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences (KDIS), replacing other science majors (e.g., in physics, chemistry, biology) which will no longer be offered. As a member of The Claremont Colleges, CMC students wishing to major in a science field other than integrated sciences can request a major at the W.M. Keck Science Department (Keck), Harvey Mudd College, or Pomona College. Acceptance into those majors is determined by those programs and is not guaranteed. 

Prospective declared science majors entering in Fall 2024 will be encouraged to take their first-year science courses at Keck in their freshman year and begin taking science courses at KDIS in their sophomore year. All other students entering in Fall 2024 may take their general elective (GE) science course at either Keck or KDIS in their first-year; students wishing to complete their science GE requirement after AY 24-25 will do so at KDIS.

Please contact the founding chair, Professor Ran “Ron” Libeskind-Hadas.