Spring 2024

Being Human in STEM

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-150  |  Chemistry, as CHEM-250


Sheila S. Jaswal (Section 01)
Mona Wu Orr (Section 01)


(Offered as BIOL-150, CHEM-250) This is an interactive course that combines academic inquiry and community engagement to investigate identity, inequality and representation within Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields--at Amherst and beyond. We begin the course by grounding our understanding of the STEM experience at Amherst in national and global contexts. We will survey the interdisciplinary literature on the ways in which identity - race, gender, class, ability, sexuality- and geographic context shape STEM persistence and belonging. We will bring this literature into conversation with our own Amherst experiences. These challenging conversations require vulnerability, openness and the ability to tolerate discomfort. We will work from day one to build a brave space whose foundation is trust, accountability and growth. Students will design group projects that apply themes from the literature and our seminar discussions to develop resources and engage the STEM community, whether at the college, local, or national level. Course work includes critical reading and discussion, reflective writing, and collaborative work culminating in community engagement proposals which students will share with the campus and the broader public.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. 

Offered Spring Semester: Professor Jaswal. 

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to ensure a mix of majors and class years.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: An emphasis on critical reading, active engagement in discussion, including some facilitation, written reflections, and contribution to a final written or digital group project drawing from course materials, discussions, and independent research, which will be used as the basis for an oral presentation in a community salon.

BIOL 150 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE E208
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM SCCE E208


Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025