The biological sciences play a key role in human society from the conservation of biodiversity to medicine. The Department of Biology cultivates an exciting academic environment to study, research, and contemplate the broad spectrum of the life sciences. Our teaching philosophy is founded on a belief in the value of a personal educational experience achieved through small classes and laboratories, and abundant opportunities for independent study and research.
At Washington and Lee, we take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the environment. Faculty and students from the sciences, the humanities, the social sciences, and law are involved in this approach through research, the curriculum, exchange abroad opportunities and a variety of co-curricular activities, including numerous public lectures, service learning projects, monthly luncheon seminars, internships, as well as, outdoors activities. Students develop disciplinary expertise and an understanding of how insights from different disciplines complement each other. This is not only a unique academic experience, but also one that expands the students’ ability as citizens to be aware of the scientific, ethical, and policy issues they will face in their local communities, their professions and in their broader world community.
Neuroscience is one of Washington and Lee's oldest interdisciplinary programs. Our first major graduated in 1990 and since that time many students have successfully completed the neuroscience curriculum. The mission of the program is to foster an environment of collaborative research wherein students learn discipline-specific knowledge, analytic and scientific thinking and ethical principles of research through close interactions with faculty members actively engaged in basic neuroscience research. Coursework in this program serves to provide background and context for the research activities that are the core experience for our students.
The psychology major at W&L emphasizes the scientific aspect of psychology. This means that in addition to the various content courses, students are encouraged to understand and "do" psychology by becoming involved in research. Many courses require students to design and run their own experiments, and students are encouraged to work with faculty members on their research, both during the school year and in the summer. This makes the program at W&L different from many larger schools, where research is only done by graduate students.