Biology 104

BIOL 104
Human Biology

Catalog Entry

BIOL 104. Human Biology
Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory (4).

For students who are not Biology majors. An introduction to the basic principles of biology, with emphasis on human beings as biological organism. Humans will be considered as products of evolution, as physiological systems, as reproducing entities, as members of their ecosystem, and as biological engineers able to change other organisms. The nature of scientific investigation will be stressed and current applications to biological technology and its effect on society will be considered. BIOL 104 is not a prerequisite for upper level study in Biology. Biology majors should take BIOL 131. Students who are not Biology majors but need to take upper level Biology courses should take BIOL 105. This course has been approved for credit in the Natural Sciences Area of the Core Curriculum.


Detailed Description of Course

The course will be divided into six major topic areas. These areas should all be covered whenever the course is taught, but different instructors may emphasize different topic areas in different ways and to different extents, depending on their expertise and interests and the interests of their students. The major topic areas are listed below with examples of specific topics which could be included.

  • Humans as Products of Evolution

Principles of evolution, human evolution, primatology, human coevolution with pathogens and parasites

  • Humans as Homeostatic Systems

General and comparative physiology, exercise physiology, water balance, nutrition, malnutrition, obesity, eating disorders, the cardiovascular system, immunity, the nervous system

  • Humans as Reproducing Entities

Genetics, mitosis and meiosis, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic diseases, reproductive physiology, sexually transmitted diseases, the menstrual cycle, fertilization and development

  • Humans as Members of Biological Communities and Ecosystems

Human pathogens and parasites, infectious diseases, the problem of antibiotic resistance, organisms with commensal or mutualistic relationships with humans, environmental health

  • Humans as Biological Engineers

Artificial selection, domestication, hybridization, assisted reproduction, cloning, stem cell research, artificial organs, genome projects, genetically modified organisms, biological ethics

  • What Does it Mean to be Human?

Comparative behavior, brain evolution, biology of language, sociobiology

Laboratory exercises

The laboratory portion of the course will emphasize development the following skill:

Measuring, analysis, graphing, experimental design, scientific writing, peer review

Possible methods by which these skills may be imparted include, but will not be limited to:

Experimentation, modeling, dissection, resource surveys, diet analysis, physiological measurements, physiological self-monitoring

Possible topics that could be used to introduce these methods and skills, and to demonstrate course content include, but are not restricted to:

  • Phylogeny of disease strains
  • Phylogeny of primate taxa
  • Exercise physiology
  • Sensory physiology
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Genetics
  • Comparative anatomy
  • Enzymes
  • Blood typing
  • Diet and nutrition


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will be taught in the class/laboratory format. Class will include not only lecture, but also activities to promote synthesis, application, analysis, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Readings from textbook and popular books or journal articles will require students to understand some content without a teacher's explanation. Information searching and evaluation skills will be taught as part of student secondary research.

Whenever possible, students will practice using basic mathematics and statistics.


Goals and Objectives of the Course.

Students will understand the methodologies of scientific inquiry; think critically about scientific issues and understand that the results of scientific research can be critically interpreted; participate in informed discussions of scientific issues; and describe the natural/physical world within the context of a specific scientific discipline.


Students will be able to:

a.       employ scientific methods to gather and analyze data and test hypotheses in a laboratory setting

b.      distinguish between findings that are based upon empirical data and those that are not

c.       explain the relationships among the sciences and between science, technology, popular media, and contemporary issues in society

d.      explain how scientific ideas are developed or modified over time based on evidence

e.       use the language of science to explain scientific principles within the context of a specific scientific discipline


Assessment Measures

Assessment measures will vary with the instructor, but will generally include lecture and laboratory exams and a final exam. Continuing assessment will involve quizzes, class projects, laboratory reports and take-home exams. Students may be asked to do outside research and prepare written or oral presentations applying what they have learned. Students may be asked to argue, orally or in writing, for a particular position in areas where there is disagreement. Students may be asked to develop laboratory projects and will present the projects and results in poster or oral presentations.

  • Student ability to think critically and to construct logical arguments will be assessed by their abilities to present, orally and/or in writing, their laboratory research and/or library research. They will also be assessed in their ability to make arguments for particular positions.
  • Student understanding of the empirical nature of science will be assessed through targeted exam questions. Their understanding will also be assessed through the quality of their lab reports and lab project presentations.
  • Student ability to apply scientific methods and to use scientific problem-solving will be assessed by observing the development of their laboratory projects, assessing their project presentations, and assessing their arguments in presenting scientific disagreements.
  • Student ability to relate science to the world at large and to see connections between science, technology, and society will be assessed through written or oral presentations on current scientific issues, and particularly through written or oral arguments in areas where there are disagreements.


Other Course Information

As a considerable number of sections are anticipated, multiple instructors will likely teach the course in a given semester. They will coordinate laboratory exercises to reduce demands on support services.


Review and Approval

Date Action Approved by

March 2009 Dr. Joel B. Hagen, Chair