Study the Natural World (SNW)

Among the landmark discoveries of humankind are the invention of the wheel and the discovery of fire. While each of these was transformative, it can be argued that both pale in comparison with the development of the scientific method. Our five senses deliver information that each of us builds into a system of beliefs known as “common sense.” This sense is “common” because all humans who suffer the same limitations of their senses reach similar conclusions about how the natural world works. Extrapolation of these expectations beyond the reach of our senses – to the very small at the atomic scale and the very fast at light speed – is false. The rigor of the scientific method has allowed and even forced humanity to break ties with common sense by recognizing that truth does not succumb to the beliefs of the majority. The reward for embracing reason over prejudice has been the discovery of those bizarre and beautiful truths of the natural world that provide the basis for all modern technology. Knowledge of these discoveries and an understanding of the research processes that led to them are essential components of higher education.

Learning Outcomes for “Study the Natural World”

1. Understand the methods scientists use to explore natural phenomena including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, and evaluation of evidence.
2. Understand the natural world and the major principles and concepts that form the basis of knowledge in the natural sciences.
3. Assess scientific information and understand the application of scientific data, concepts, and models in the natural sciences.
4. Make informed decisions on contemporary issues involving scientific information.

Standards for “Study the Natural World”

1. Certified natural science courses shall fulfill outcome 1 (understand the methods scientists use to explore natural phenomena including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence) and at least two of the remaining three outcomes and have a broad content in a specific area of the Natural World.

For a list of Stony Brook courses that satisfy these learning objectives and standards, complete a course search at this link.