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ERIC Number: EJ1101250
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jun
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1931-7913
Beyond the Cell: Using Multiscalar Topics to Bring Interdisciplinarity into Undergraduate Cellular Biology Courses
Weber, Carolyn F.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v15 n2 Essay 1 Jun 2016
Western science has grown increasingly reductionistic and, in parallel, the undergraduate life sciences curriculum has become disciplinarily fragmented. While reductionistic approaches have led to landmark discoveries, many of the most exciting scientific advances in the late 20th century have occurred at disciplinary interfaces; work at these interfaces is necessary to manage the world's looming problems, particularly those that are rooted in cellular-level processes but have ecosystem- and even global-scale ramifications (e.g., nonsustainable agriculture, emerging infectious diseases). Managing such problems requires comprehending whole scenarios and their emergent properties as sums of their multiple facets and complex interrelationships, which usually integrate several disciplines across multiple scales (e.g., time, organization, space). This essay discusses bringing interdisciplinarity into undergraduate cellular biology courses through the use of multiscalar topics. Discussing how cellular-level processes impact large-scale phenomena makes them relevant to everyday life and unites diverse disciplines (e.g., sociology, cell biology, physics) as facets of a single system or problem, emphasizing their connections to core concepts in biology. I provide specific examples of multiscalar topics and discuss preliminary evidence that using such topics may increase students' understanding of the cell's position within an ecosystem and how cellular biology interfaces with other disciplines.
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: NSFDEB1241069; NSFDUE1140286