INSI Introduction
 

Haverford College presents the Integrated Natural Sciences Initiative, an effort which will revolutionize the teaching of science at Haverford and continue Haverford's national leadership in undergraduate science education. The centerpiece of the initiative is the planned Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, a truly unique facility that will combine Haverford's departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and psychology to create a fully integrated, cooperative educational experience.

After over a year of discussions by a multidisciplinary faculty steering committee, college administrators and outside consultants, the Baltimore architectural firm of Ayers Saint Gross has completed a design for the Integrated Natural Sciences Center which will undoubtedly prove a national model. The four-story, 144,000 square-foot complex will link the southern ends of Sharpless and Hilles Halls, and be scenically located between those buildings and the Whitehead Campus Center (along Coursey Road across from the cricket pitch).

 

 

Try the following links to learn more about the INSC:

Design Principles

The Integrated Curriculum

Features of the INSC

The Goals of Integration

The Center

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Several key principles guided the design efforts:

 


The Goal of Science Integration:

Building new walls -- especially the walls of a building as grand in scope as the Integrated Natural Sciences Center -- often requires the tearing down of old ones. But the walls that will come down at Haverford will not be those of Stokes -- or any others of the bricks-and-mortar variety. Instead, we intend to raze the methodological and conceptual walls that have long existed between undergraduate science departments. (Stokes will actually receive a complete renovation as the new home of the Economics Department, Academic and Administrative Computing Centers, Business Offices and Language Learning Center.)

The major science disciplines are evolving in ways that blur the distinctions between them. Increasingly, the most challenging scientific problems are those that cannot be addressed adequately using the traditional tools of chemistry or biology or physics alone. Furthermore, we know that most Haverford science graduates will have careers that are not centered on any one of those disciplines. Our students will be best served by programs that combine the elements of several science disciplines.

Haverford's goal is a flexible, multidisciplinary science that will go beyond the usual concept of interdisciplinary science. This model includes not just problems at the boundary of traditional disciplines, but also methodologies that combine the strengths of two (and often more) disciplines. The developing synergism goes beyond those interfaces with which most people are familiar; we want to nurture the connections of each discipline with all of the others, because we believe that students in such an environment will develop capabilities and future options that go beyond what they can achieve in a conventional, narrowly defined major program. We want them to be able to creatively approach problems wherever they exist using a broad range of skills and experience.
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It starts with the curriculum:

While integrated approaches have become prevalent at the graduate level, Haverford College has been in the forefront of national efforts to integrate undergraduate science teaching and research across traditional departmental barriers. And although one might expect small colleges like Haverford to lag behind larger research universities in natural science integration, it is in many ways easier here than at these larger institutions. Haverford's small size and personal atmosphere leads to greater flexibility and speed in curricular change and closer cross-departmental contact and relationships. Different departments are not separated by a vast campus or bureaucratic boundaries, but situated across the hall or, at the most, Founders Green.

In fact, the College has been recognized for its leadership in this respect. In the late 1980s two biological chemists (Julio de Paula and Robert Scarrow) and one biophysicist (Suzanne Amador) were added to the faculty as a result of generous funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes. This same funding helped found the biophysics and biochemistry concentrations in 1992 (most chemistry majors now concentrate in biochemistry), and the Biology, Medicine and Society program, led by Kaye Edwards, in 1996. A sure sign of Haverford's success in this area is our invitation to apply once again for Hughes funding in the year 2000. And with the construction of the Integrated Natural Sciences Center, the creation of new areas of study -- biopsychology, materials science, and mathematical biology, to name just a few -- will become a reality.
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The Center:

What is easy in theory is much more difficult in practice -- particularly in facilities like Stokes Hall that were designed under more traditional single-department strictures. Stokes, which currently houses the departments of chemistry, physics, computer science and mathematics, has served the College admirably. But the building was built in 1963, when the student body numbered 700, much less than the current enrollment of over 1100.

The Integrated Natural Sciences Center thus serves as a symbol not only of Haverford's curricular development, but of the growth of the College as well. Architects envisioned the building as a symbolic "hinge" between the newer and older quads of the campus -- with a dramatic circular atrium serving as the focal point. Pedestrian traffic between Founders Green and the Whitehead Campus Center will flow through the central areas of the building rather than around them, and be routed to the facility's outside courtyard and through an archway onto Founders Green. "This will have the effect of inviting people into the building," explains David Dawson, INSC executive committee member and Constance and Robert MacCrate Professor in Social Responsibility.

It will also provide the college community and visitors to the campus with a new, dramatic view of the college's original building. "When you walk through the archway, your first view of the green will include a sight line of Founders Hall," explains Associate Professor of Biology and INSC executive committee member Philip Meneely.
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Features of The INSC:

The Integrated Natural Sciences Center will incorporate a number of notable and innovative features:

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