CMC’s Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences program will build a “common on-ramp to the sciences” through general education courses and create meaningful conversations around the impact of science on society.
The program will be organized around three major socio-scientific grand challenges: health, brain, and planet. Several of the facets of these grand challenges were highlighted by the National Science Foundation in 2021 as among “the most important challenges that humankind has ever faced.”
The three priorities interrelate with one another and provide opportunities for important intersections with the study of psychological sciences, history, economics and business, government and policy, philosophy and ethics, and other disciplines at CMC.
The Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences’ three foci will prepare students for myriad pathways upon graduation.
Health (Genomics, Systems Biology, and Health)—the exploration of molecular data to understand the function and regulation of genes, the biological systems that 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
Responsible leadership today requires a commitment to address and anticipate the big questions of science and technology in the public sphere.
To fulfill this commitment, CMC is developing a next-generation integrated sciences program that will offer an innovative, inclusive, powerful approach to the socio-scientific grand challenges of health, brain, and planet. The program integrates CMC’s existing strengths in the social sciences and humanities with new ones in the natural sciences, coupled with computing and data science as vehicles for insight and discovery.
Courtney Hooks ’23 is the face of the future. Her career goal is to play a leadership role in the therapeutics industry. To succeed, she’ll need to stretch beyond biology, her undergraduate major. She’ll also need all the tools a liberal arts education can bestow.
After CMC, Courtney Hooks ’23 plans to pursue graduate study in biochemistry.
Claremont McKenna College keeps pushing Hooks “outside my comfort zone.” She’s discovered a love of Middle Eastern art and history. “I am also getting a great deal of leadership experience—much more than I would have gotten at a larger school,” said Hooks, who plans to pursue graduate study in biochemistry and is head consultant with the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and an Appel Fellow.
In blending disciplines, Hooks is doing it right, and CMC is ensuring that all students make the most of their liberal arts education to thrive in their chosen professions.
To that end, the College is working to transform the way that science is taught in a liberal arts context, beginning with the creation of an innovative general education sequence that will be taken by all CMC students. The new science curriculum will provide students with strong foundations in the sciences, and the skills and confidence to engage in creative problem-solving on challenges that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.
“We live in a world in which scientific discovery, computational breakthroughs, and the technological applications of them are infusing almost everything we do,” said CMC President Hiram E. Chodosh.
“Responsible leadership means leading in response to the socio-scientific grand challenges and opportunities. It is our responsibility to prepare students for the intersections that haven’t yet been reached.”
Breakthroughs in genomics, neuroscience, and renewable energy come with increasingly complex societal, economic, political, legal, and ethical implications. Tomorrow’s legal experts, policymakers, consultants—not to mention CEOs—will need fluency to participate in a science-rich discourse that increasingly touches every decision.
The key lies in integrated science. When so many scientific challenges require perspectives from multiple disciplines, our students will be best served by engaging with those connections and relationships early and often.
Integrated sciences break down those boundaries, and CMC has embraced the concept in a paradigm-shifting way. Building on its core strengths and foundational liberal arts and leadership mission, CMC is becoming a national model.