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Virtual classroom brings biosciences course to the public

A newly created “virtual classroom” will allow the public and members of the Lehigh community to take part in Bioscience in the 21st Century, a free multidisciplinary introductory course offered by the department of biological sciences.

The course, available online through the Lehigh Web site, will explore several theme-based topics in bioscience and their social and ethical considerations. The open access course is part of a new bioscience education grant provided to Lehigh by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in September 2006.

Lehigh faculty from multiple fields, including biological sciences, chemistry, English, philosophy, bioengineering, and physics, will examine contemporary life science issues. Topics such as obesity, infectious diseases, cancer, stem cell biology, advances in cell biology and medicine, genome-based medicine, and neurobiology will be addressed. As an introductory survey, it is designed for anyone with an interest in life sciences.

“There is a need for greater public understanding of science and to promote science literacy. This course is intended to meet that need,” says Vassie C. Ware, associate professor of biological sciences who is the lead instructor in the course and co-director of the HHMI grant. “It provides a broad examination of issues in life science and draws upon the diverse expertise of our faculty. The program will give a good sense of the scope of issues facing life sciences today.”

All lectures, the syllabus and course materials are available online, giving members of the Lehigh community and interested members of the public full access without registering for the course. A video of each lecture and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation will be posted on the site every two days throughout the semester, and will be archived for viewing at any time.

“This is an opportunity to take advantage of the university as a public resource,” Ware says. “We structured this program to make it accessible to anyone within the Lehigh community and to the community as a whole.”

In addition to the Bioscience in the 21st Century Web site, the lectures and accompanying course materials can also be accessed through iTunes U at www.lehigh.edu/itunesu.

--Tricia Long

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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