New iSci program to produce next generation of scientists
The new Honours B.Sc. Integrated Science (iSci) Program was approved by Senate earlier this month. The Faculty of Science is scheduled to welcome its first 60 iSci students in 2009.
When John Capone became the dean of Science in 2005, he brought with him the vision of an interdisciplinary and integrated research based program that targeted highly motivated and high-achieving undergraduate students. At that time, he struck a committee to explore this concept, and from that sprang an enthusiastic and driven team of faculty and staff members from across Science that spearheaded the iSci program.
"The iSci curriculum is being developed to be taught in a fully integrated way, unlike any program that currently exists in Canada," said Capone."
Students will engage in research at a very early stage and will be expected to obtain an integrated background in physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, psychology, earth science and computer science. The iSci program will also allow students to develop a specialization in a discipline within any of the Science departments.
The program will produce students that will be able to understand how scientific thought is created and communicated. Students will be taught by interdisciplinary teams of instructors in laboratory and field settings as well as in lectures, workshops and tutorials. Much of the program content will be taught as thematic modules such as "Deflecting an Asteroid" or "Averting a Pandemic" that will enable students to understand the connections between scientific disciplines and the relevance of science to modern society.
Students will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on research projects throughout the iSci program, and they will be encouraged to seek research collaborations with government, industry and community partners.
Students will also learn about the nature of scientific writing, research ethics, and the use of library and Internet resources for co-operative research projects. Critical thinking and written communication skills will be cultivated through this exploration of scientific literacy.
Carolyn Eyles is a professor in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences and Chair of the Development and Instructional Committees for iSci. While she fervently praises the Faculty committee team as a whole for moving this innovative program forward, her own passion for what this program means to both science and society is obvious.
"Students don't usually get interdisciplinary research experiences until they reach the masters stage of their education, so intellectual and social maturity levels are traits we are seeking in applicants to the program," she explained. "Through this intense fusion of all core science, and with an emphasis on scientific literacy, we will develop students who have the confidence and ability to clearly communicate the results of their research work to both the scientific community and to society at large."
The goal of this program is to produce broadly-educated research scientists who are able to contribute to any modern field of science. Students graduating from the iSci program will be able to analyze any scientific data and have the tools to provide solutions to many of the problems facing the world. These young scientists will be Canada's and the world's scientific leaders of the future.