ITEM 112-2007-R0901   ATTACHMENT

 

ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION OPTION

Montana State University-Bozeman

 

Objectives and Needs

 

1.       Centrality to Institutional Mission

 

a.  Goals and Objectives

Create a new undergraduate option in the Ecology Department titled Ecology and Evolution Option.

The objectives in creating this option are:

1.  Enhance quality of undergraduate education in ecology and evolution in the newly formed Ecology

      Department by better coordinating existing courses in this field

2.  Facilitate a greater academic “identity” for undergraduates interested in ecology and evolution.

3.   Expand undergraduate enrollments by creating an option the parallels our new Ecology Department.

 

b.  Intellectual Basis for the Curriculum

Ecology is rapidly growing environmental sciences that contributes greatly to understanding and managing the natural resources that are essential to society.  Evolutionary perspectives are a key basis for understanding the origins and dynamics of ecological systems.  The proximity of MSU to Yellowstone National Park and other wildlands in the Northern Rockies has allowed MSU to become a national leader in basic and applied ecology.  By better coordinating existing courses in ecology and evolution and better advertising this new option, MSU can continue to build an outstanding curriculum in these critically-important fields.

 

c.  Course of Study –  A complete course of study is presented below.  No new courses are proposed.  Course numbers and titles correspond to those in the 2000-2002 MSU Catalog. 

 

Undergraduate Ecology and Evolution Option Curriculum

Category                    Course                                                                   Credits

 

Required Biology        101 Biology of Organisms    ........................................ 4

                                    102 Cells and Molecules............................................. 4         

                                    301 Genetics............................................................. 3         

                                    303 Principles of Ecology............................................ 3

                                    403 Evolution ............................................................. 3

4xx Capstone1............................................................ 2         

            Subtotal for required courses.......................................................... 19       

                                   

Other Requirements  Students need to take either the A or B or C sequence (where present) in each of the following 5 categories.  In at least one category, Option B or C must be selected.

 

Chemistry

 

            Sequence A

                        Chem 121N  Intro General Chemistry................................... 4

                        Chem 122N  Organic & Biochem Prin.................................. 4

                        Total units......................................................................... 8

            Sequence B

                        Chem 131N General Chemistry I ......................................... 4

                        Chem 132N General Chemistry II......................................... 4

                        Chem 215N Elements of Organic......................................... 5

                        Bchm 340  General Biochemistry......................................... 5

                        Total units........................................................................ 18

Physics2

 

            Sequence A

                        Phys 205N  College Physics I............................................. 4

                        Phys 206N  College Physics II............................................. 4

                        Total units.......................................................................... 8

            Sequence B

                        Phys 211N Gen &Mod Physics I lecture only........................ 3

                        Phys 212N Gen & Mod Physics II lecture only...................... 3

                        Phys 213N Gen & Mod Physics III lecture only...................... 3

                        Total units.......................................................................... 9

Math

 

            Sequence A

                        Math 170M Survey of Calculus.............................................. 4

                        PS 318 Biometry................................................................. 3

                        Total units .......................................................................... 7

            Sequence B

                        Math 170M Survey of Calculus.............................................. 4

                        Stat 216M   Elementary Statistics......................................... 3

                        Stat 217M    Intermediate Statistical Concepts........................ 3

                        Total units.......................................................................... 10

            Sequence C

                        Math 181M Calculus & Analytic Geometry I............................ 4

                        Math 182M Calculus & Analytic Geometry II........................... 4

                        Stat 332  Statistics for Scientists and Engineers..................... 3

                        Total units........................................................................... 11

 

Writing

            Basic writing

                        Engl 121 W- College Writing I................................................ 3

            Plus one of following courses

                        Engl 221 College Writing II..................................................... 3

                        Engl 223 Technical Writing..................................................... 3

                        Total units............................................................................. 6

 

Communication

            One of

                        CLS 101V  College Seminar................................................... 3

                        CLS 111V  College Seminar: Science..................................... 3

                        Com 110V Public Communication........................................... 3

                        GENS 101V Freshman Core Seminar...................................... 3

                        Total Units............................................................................ 3

            Subtotal for support courses............................................................. 35-42

                          [36]

 

Biology Electives     14/20 min from Ecol, Biol, F&WL, etc........................................ 23

                                    16/20 min from upper division

 

University Core          ............................................................................................. 21

                                   

Other Upper Division (42 total required; minimum required by option 28-33)............... 9-14    

                                   

Other Credits (120 total required)........................................................................... <=12   

 

1     Courses qualifying as capstone would be current capstone course (Biol 443, Current Topics in Biology) or other designated current senior-level courses such as Advanced Animal Ecology, Stream Ecology, others.

2      Note that taking the Physics B sequence requires that the student also take the Math C sequence

   

d.  Prospective instructional methods.

i.  Telecommunications will not be used.

ii.  The program will not be delivered off campus.

 

2.  Need for Program.

The newly formed Ecology Department currently offers a B.S. in Biological Sciences that is currently pursued by 348 undergraduates.  The degree has the following options: Biology (proposed to be changed in name but not in terms of its broad-base of biology), Biology Teaching, and Fish & Wildlife Management.  Although the current offerings cover a broad set of topics from a very broad biology education (Biology Option) to more specific and more applied options (Biology Teaching Option and Fish & Wildlife Management Option), there is an excellent opportunity to provide an option with intermediate breadth in Ecology and Evolution.  The Ecology Department has faculty members with a breadth of expertise in both plant and animal ecology and evolution and thus is well positioned to teach and advise such an option.  Further, the field of Ecology and Evolution has grown dramatically and employment opportunities are growing for graduates in this area.  This degree option will be an excellent counterpart to the existing degree options.  It will be narrower in scope and thus, deeper in its coverage than the Biology Option.  In contrast, it will be broader in scope and thus, less-detailed than the Fish & Wildlife Management Option.  Based on discussions with students and faculty as well as examination of Ecology and Evolution Programs in other states, we expect the Ecology and Evolution Option at Montana State University to be well utilized.  We expect that the Option will attract some students from current options offered on campus, especially those offered by the Ecology Department.  We also expect that the Option will attract new students to Montana State University, i.e., those that specifically want to pursue a career in Ecology and Evolution and would forgo attending MSU in the absence of having such a degree option.  The Option will be formed using existing courses and faculty resources.

 

3.  New Courses the Program will Add.

            The program will add no new courses.

 

Adequacy, Accreditation and Assessment Issues

 

  1. Adequacy of present facilities and faculty

 

This new option will be based completely on existing courses taught by existing faculty in existing facilities.  Thus, support of the program is adequate.  In addition, library facilities are adequate.

 

  1. Special Accreditation

 

None sought.

 

  1. Assessment Plan.  The assessment plan will follow those developed for the “old” Biology Department.
    1. Students will be considered prepared for courses in the option if they meet course prerequisites for introductory courses.
    2. Intermediate assessment of students will occur through standard course assessment methods (e.g., testing, writing and speaking assignments).
    3.  End-of –instruction assessment will occur in the option’s Capstone Courses.
    4. Student satisfaction will be assessed through final evaluation of advisors when students turn in their application to graduate.
    5. None used in the current Biology department.
    6. None used in the current Biology department.

 

Impact on Faculty, Facilities, Costs, Students, and other Departments and Campuses

 

1)      Additional Faculty requirements, including qualifications, salary, and recruitment. 

 

None required by proposed change.

 

2)      Impact on facilities.

 

None required by proposed change.

 

3)   This new option will be based completely on existing course taught by existing   faculty members.  Thus, no new costs of any type will be incurred.

a.      none

b.      none

c.      none

d.      none

e.      none

f.        none

g.      none

 

4)      Impact on Enrollment

 

a.    Current student faculty ratio is around 29.  We expect this to gradually increase to a student faculty ratio of on the order of 32.

b.     No change in admission standards is planned.

c.    The proposed change will allow us to serve our existing students better by giving them greater flexibility in their emphasis options.  We expect that the new emphasis in ecology and evolution will attract some new students with interests in continued education in Ecology and evolution to the department.

d.     We anticipate approximately 10 new undergraduate students a year entering the department.  This will lead to a stable program size of approximately 390 undergraduate majors.

e.     We already have achieved critical mass for this program.

f.      This program will not be delivered by telecommunications.

 

5)      Relationships to Other Programs on Campus: 

 

The new program in Ecology and Evolution would be related to existing programs (e.g. Land Resources and Environmental Science) that depend on teaching by faculty in the Department of Ecology.  However, the new relationship would be identical to the existing relationship between the Department of Ecology and other programs.  It is perhaps clearest to consider the disciplines of ecology and evolution separately.

 

Ecology: By creating the Department of Ecology from a portion of the old Department of Biology, the College of Letters and Science established an obvious focal point for the curriculum in ecology at MSU.  The Department of Ecology now teaches the majority of MSU's lower division courses in organismal biology, and provides upper division courses in ecology and related disciplines.  Many of these courses are taken by students in other departments (and colleges, e.g Agriculture) to satisfy ecology requirements.  This situation does not represent a significant change from the period before the formation of the new Department of Ecology, because the same faculty were teaching essentially the same curriculum as members of the old Department of Biology.  It is hoped that the new department will be able to expand this curriculum in the future.

 

Evolution:  At present, MSU does not have a curriculum in evolutionary biology, and this is a serious problem that the Department of Ecology seeks to address in the long term.  Evolution is now taught in introductory biology (BIOL 122), obliquely covered in Genetics (BIOL 301) and in a single required course (BIOL 403) that must address all of micro and macro evolution in 3 credit hours.  We will improve the curriculum in evolution, to the benefit of students in our department and in related departments by the following immediate steps:  (1) Establishing an option in Ecology and Evolution; (2) Hiring a Conservation Geneticist who will teach an upper division course related to evolution (this search was approved by MSU and is now underway); (3) Re-assigning teaching effort so that three credit hours of Animal Physiology will now be taught by the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience (Dr. Charles Gray), rather than the Department of Ecology ( Dr. Scott Creel).  This will allow the possibility of another upper division course related to evolutionary biology, beginning in Fall 2002.

 

In short, all existing courses that are used by students in other departments will continue to be offered, while the curriculum in Ecology and Evolution will be strengthened substantially.

 

6)    Relationship to Other Institutions

 

a)     Duplication.  No other program in Ecology and Evolution is offered by the MUS.  The most similar program is the BS in Wildlife Biology offered by the University of Montana.  This program is more similar to MSU's current BS in Fish and Wildlife Management than it would be to the proposed Ecology and Evolution option.  BS in Wildlife Biology at UM includes a single course in evolutionary biology (Biol 223, Genetics and Evolution).

b)      As outlined in points 5 and 6a above, the uniqueness of this program would be its emphasis on aspects of ecology that are not necessarily closely tied to Fish and Wildlife Management, and its increased focus on evolutionary biology. 

c)      Articulation with feeder and receiver programs.  The option in Ecology and Evolution will be fed by normal freshman and transfer enrollment: its proposed requirements are inline with similar programs across the nation.  Students graduating from the program will be well-positioned to continue with graduate degrees within the MUS or elsewhere. 

 

Process Leading to Submission of Proposal

 

The previous Biology Department formed a faculty committee to prepare a detailed proposal for a new Ecology Department.  This document included an extensive analysis of student needs, job market, integration with other programs at MSU, and other factors.  Among the recommendations of the document was that a new option in Ecology be formed.  A faculty committee was assigned to developing a proposal for such an option.  The committee met over a one-year period, evaluated needs, and designed the proposed option.  Earlier drafts of the proposal were reviewed by the full department and by the MSU Curriculum Committee.