Loyola University Chicago

University Core

Scientific Knowledge and Inquiry

Area Goal: This Core Area of Inquiry will invite students to explore the fundamental principles, concepts, questions, and methods of science.

Area Objectives: In the study of scientific knowledge and inquiry, students will explore how empirical questions are addressed using the iterative methods and tools of science. Students will also examine the scientific underpinnings of environmental processes. This Core Area will prepare students to make reasoned decisions and informed judgments about the role science plays for people, communities, societies, and life on Earth.

Area Learning Outcomes: After completing the two courses in this Area, students will be able to:

  • explain Earths’ physical, chemical, and biological systems and the implications of their alteration by human activities.
  • describe how scientific data are collected, analyzed, and interpreted using the Scientific Method and fundamental scientific principles and concepts.
  • collect, analyze, and interpret scientific data to explore empirical questions.
  • communicate scientific processes and results.
  • articulate the philosophical or historical foundations of one or more contemporary scientific disciplines.


 Foundational Course: Tier I (1 course required)

ENVS 101: The Scientific Basis of Environmental Issues
The overarching strategy of this course will be to frame environmental science in terms of a series of interacting systems to allow students to analyze a variety of environmental issues and the role of human interactions in the environment, with the students becoming environmentally literate citizens of the 21st Century. 

Outcome: Students will be able to identify and describe the basic scientific principles and processes important in environmental science (such as energy, photosynthesis, elemental cycles).  Additionally, students will be able to construct causal chains showing how environmental inputs produce certain outputs and will be able to construct testable and falsifiable hypotheses.

Tier II Courses (1 course required)

A requirement for all Tier II Courses:   ENVS 101. Please check requirements for declared majors/minors for exceptions.

ANTH 101: Human Origins (D)
This course explores the study of the biological history of the human species, from its emergence through the establishment of food-producing societies.

Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of basic biological principles (heredity, physiology, evolutionary mechanisms, adaptation, ecology) in the context of their application to the human condition, as well as the role of cultural behavior in defining the distinctiveness of that condition.
ANTH 103: Biological  Background for Human Social Behavior (D)
This course examines the possible biological bases of modern human behavior, from a strong scientific and multi-disciplinary perspective.

Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the process of how science is conducted, and the interactions between science and culture, especially given the controversial history of the subject matter.
ANTH 104: The Human Ecological Footprint
This course is an introduction to global human ecology and concentrates on how we as humans affect global ecosystems and how these changes can impact our behavior, health, economics, and politics.

Outcome: Students will be able to draw connections between basic ecological processes and the global patterns of human population growth, health and disease, inequality and poverty, subsistence strategies, and land use and technology.
ANTH 105: Human Biocultural Diversity (D)
This course examines the history of the concept of the biological race, the emergence, and the role of scientific racism, as well as the current scientific research objectives and methodologies.

Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the assessment and explanations for human interpopulation differences such as skin color, nasal shape, eye color, hair color and form, disease resistance, and blood polymorphisms.
ANTH 106: Sex, Science and Anthropological Inquiry (D)
This course examines the issues of sex and gender within physical/biological anthropology.

Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of human genetics, patterns of human heredity, the mechanisms of biological evolution, nature/nurture debate, primate taxonomy and behavior, and early human fossil evidence and interpretation.
BIOL 110: Liberal Arts Biology
Liberal Arts Biology covers fundamental principles of biological sciences at a level for non-science majors. The focus of the course will vary depending on the expertise of the instructor.  All instructors will address the same fundamental principles.

Outcome:  Students understand the scientific method, diversity of life, classification of organisms, cell structure and function, the chromosomal and molecular basis of inheritance, and organ systems of the human body.
ENVS 207: Plants and Civilization
This course examines the structure, function, ecology, and diversity of plants, and allows evaluation of the importance of plants to human civilization on multiple levels.

Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of plant biology and the critical role of plants in the biosphere, as well as direct linkages between plants and human society.
 ENVS 218: Biogeography and Biodiversity
This course covers the creation and maintenance of biodiversity across taxonomic, temporal, and spatial scales.  It will provide an overview of the history of biogeography, increase understanding of the evolutionary processes that create biodiversity, the influence of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and the rapid biodiversity loss resulting from human actions.

Outcome: Students will gain knowledge of and appreciation for the biodiversity of life, its formation through the process of evolution, and the importance of biodiversity to ecosystem function and human welfare.
 ENVS 223: Soil Ecology 
 This course introduces the properties, functions, and conservation of soil. Topics include belowground ecosystem services, soil biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, and conservation, human impacts on soils, and the socioeconomic implications of soil degradation.  Lectures, laboratory/field soil testing, field trips, and presentations by experts in sustainable soil management are employed.

Outcome: Students will understand the properties, functions, and methods of conservation/remediation of soils, learn how human activities affect soils and associated socioeconomic consequences, and develop analytical skills to assess soil health.
 ENVS 224: Climate and Climate Change
This course introduces students to basic principles and knowledge to explain climate change. Students will learn about natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change, the interactions between earth-atmosphere-ocean systems, climate feedback mechanisms, and impacts of climate change on the natural physical environment.

Outcome: Students will develop cognitive and mathematical skills to draw valid, logical conclusions regarding various observed phenomena such as observed changes in the climate system and observed impacts of climate change.
ENVS 226: Science & Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems are threatened by water extraction, pollution, invasive species, and many other pressures. This course covers physical, chemical, and biological processes in freshwaters and the benefits that humans derive from these ecosystems. Major issues for conservation will be covered at global and Great Lakes scales. Prerequisite: ENVS 101

Outcome: Students will gain an understanding of different types of freshwater ecosystems, their functioning and importance for human societies, and the range of pressures they currently face.
ENVS 227R: Ecology of the Mediterranean Sea (Rome Campus Only) 
This course examines the ecology of the Mediterranean Sea and how human activity has shaped the present-day ecosystem. Students will learn fundamental ecological concepts including ecosystem functioning, energy flow, matter transformation, and elemental cycles and the human impacts on the Mediterranean environment, including discussion of impact reduction and remediation.  Prerequisite: ENVS 101.  Rome Campus Only

Outcome: Students will gain an understanding of ecological processes/interconnections within the Mediterranean Sea ecosystem, and of historical & current human-induced changes therein.
ENVS 273: Energy and the Environment
This course will introduce the basic knowledge that has been developed as well as the underlying processes and laws that govern the nature of energy and its interactions. This will include an introduction to fundamental physics concepts including work, power, motion, forces, heat, and energy.

Outcome: Students will be introduced to the thinking and methodology used by scientists in this field to gain an understanding of how science builds a logical structure of theories and laws and how these constructs are then applied. This requires that students use both cognitive and quantitative skills. There will be opportunities to analyze data in this field allowing students to draw valid, logical conclusions regarding various observed phenomena.
ENVS 283: Environmental Sustainability
This course examines the area of environmental science relative to the impact that humans as consumers have on the environment and how these interactions affect the probability of establishing sustainability for human and non-human inhabitants of planet Earth.

Students will be able to analyze specific environmental issues related to sustainability and to reflect upon how and to what extent our individual behaviors impact the problem and the potential for individual change and civic engagement.
PHYS 101: Liberal Arts Physics
This course uses physics as a vehicle to introduce students to the fundamental principles, concepts, and knowledge of the sciences and introduces them to the methodology of scientific inquiry.

Outcome: Students will be able to make reasoned judgments about the impact of science on the individual, community, and society.
PHYS 102: Planetary and Stellar Astronomy
This course covers the astronomy of the solar system and planetary science as well as the astronomy of stars and galaxies.  This includes the study of earth and comparative study of all the planets, as well as the birth, evolution, and death of stars, the clustering of stars and galaxies, the expanding universe, and cosmology.

Students will have an understanding of the fundamental principles, concepts, and knowledge of science as well as the methodology of scientific inquiry.  It will prepare them to make reasoned judgments about the impact of science on the individual, community, and society. 
PHYS 106: Physics of Music
Language, structure, history, and styles of music; motion, force, energy, and waves applied to the production of sound; physical properties of instruments and musical acoustics.

Outcome: Knowledge of music fundamentals; understand how instruments function; apply physics concepts and experimentation to analyze the production of music and acoustics.

Courses with a Diversity Designation are indicated with a (D).