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By Sydney Garrow on August 30, 2017

Have you ever played word games with a professional in a life sciences field? If so, you know the sheer frustration of losing to words such as “fasciculation or “crepitus.”

Working in the worlds of biology, medicine and other health professions will throw an abundance of new and unfamiliar words at you. They definitely won’t sound like anything you would hear in normal conversation, but they are necessary for scientific discourse.

Fortunately, UC Davis offers many elective courses in the humanities designed to reinforce your major in the life sciences while helping you become competitive in those word games.

Whether it’s deciphering the meanings of strange scientific vocabulary, understanding the ethics associated with advances in biology and medicine, or developing critical thinking and analytical skills, UC Davis has a lot to offer. Check out these electives that are particularly helpful, according to advisors in the College of Biological Sciences.

1. Classics 30 ‘Greek and Latin Elements in Technical Vocabulary’

Offered to incoming freshmen, this class in the Classics Program will provide you with an extensive knowledge of words borrowed from Greek and Latin. You’ll learn the tools to break down, analyze and comprehend many terms that you’ll hear and read about in your classes, because so many scientific words come from Greek and Latin roots.

2. Philosophy 15 ‘Intro to Bioethics’

In many human undertakings that center on living organisms — such as research and medicine — you’ll discover a lot of ethical questions to consider in the Department of Philosophy. Why not take a philosophy class to learn important questions to ask using knowledge and understanding developed by people outside the biological world? In this class, you’ll explore the ethics of contentious issues and the bearing they have on living creatures.

3. Philosophy 31 ‘Appraising Scientific Reasoning’

In this class, you will understand how reasoning skills will be instrumental in studying and taking the Medical College Admission Test. This class also gives you the opportunity to justify reasoning for hypotheses in both contemporary and historic cases.

4. History 2/Science and Technology Studies 2 ‘Intro to the History of Science and Technology’

This Science and Technology Studies class gives life sciences majors the opportunity to understand their field of study in a nontechnical way. Students will gain knowledge extending beyond the brief history of discoveries touched upon in regular science classes, and they will get an overview of many science and technology fields. By gaining a historical perspective, students will be better equipped to assess the current progress of science and technology fields.

In the end, what we get out of our undergrad experience is up to us. As a life sciences major, it is important to stretch your brain with different classes that challenge the way you think about science.

Read more about the philosophy and science and technology majors in our blog.

Sydney Garrow ’17 majored in English with minors in German and professional writing and is a writer for the College of Biological Sciences.

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