A biologist and a mathematician may seem like an odd couple, but if you
were at the third annual Science College Day on Jan. 31, youd have
left feeling that thats exactly the kind of match necessary for
In fact, bringing together research-thirsty Concordia students from various
departments and giving them a chance to collaborate on projects concurrently
with their undergraduate studies is the basis of the Science College.
Population ecologist Dr. Edward Maly, one of the founding members of the
Science College, emphasized the point in a talk he gave as part of the
A lot of research is broader than people think and needs to be looked
at from various perspectives, Maly said. In creating the College,
our goal was to create a common ground equally suitable for physicists,
geologists, chemists and other scientists. Its all about bringing
many different sciences and backgrounds together to look at one question.
Michael von Grünau, the principal of the College, added later, What
makes the College unique is the chance for students to get a head start
on real research before theyre at the graduate level. If you want
to be a scientist, you have to get your hands dirty as early as possible.
The Science College admits undergraduate science students who show greater
than average interest in science and plan to pursue research. Traditionally,
the College courses replaced honours degree electives.
However, the success of the Science College, together with student satisfaction,
brought two major changes. First, enrolment increased significantly, from
12 students in 1979 to between 70 and 80 students today.
Second, the program is now offered as a minor in multidisciplinary studies
in science. Its 30 credits include three research projects, various cross-disciplinary
courses designed specially for the College, and a six-credit course in
the history, philosophy and social aspects of science.
As Maly explained, the program exposes students to cross-disciplinary
thinking and intensive student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction.
Whats more, it gives them the opportunity to work with research
scientists on actual projects in each year of their studies, either at
Concordia or at other universities or research centres.
So far, students have found it extremely motivating to be able to work
with bright peers from areas of science other than their own not
to mention the coffee hours. Its a weekly tradition
for students and faculty to meet over coffee and cookies and discuss anything
from science to politics to potential research projects, Maly said.
The College also runs two annual public lectures. On March 27, Margaret
Somerville will speak on Whose Genes, Life, Pregnancy, Birth, Child,
Death is It Anyway? Technoscience, Intense Individualism and
Social Values at 8:30 p.m. in the Hall Building, H-110.
Initially housed in whats now a mail room and secretary office
in the Hall Building, the College has for several years now been in its
own building at 2080 Mackay St., where students have 24-hour access to
computers and study spaces. A move to the new Science Building on the
Loyola Campus is scheduled for this summer.
Despite the changes and improvements over the years, the College mission
remains intact: to ensure that once they leave the Science College, the
students are equipped with a sharpened understanding of the basics of
science, and experience of what to expect from a science career.