Health and Human Biology (revised as of January 2012)

Health and Human Biology is an interdisciplinary concentration whose goals are to provide a rigorous foundation in the biological sciences with substantive course work in humanities and social sciences within a subfield of Human Health and Disease.

The program includes: background courses, a biology core courses, a set of theme courses, and a Senior Capstone activity. Background courses provide the essential foundations in chemistry, mathematics, methods, and basic biology. These support the Biology core comprised of a flexible menu of intermediate and advanced courses. A required portion of the Biology core is Genetics, which is considered a cornerstone of human biology and its interface with other fields.

The Biology core underscores the related coursework within the Health and Disease Theme. This course grouping is comprised of social science and humanities courses and must form a cohesive, thoughtful cohort. Suggested theme subfoci must be discussed and approved by an advisor. It is expected that these course selections will evolve over the course of the student's college career, as each semester's experience builds on the previous one.

Finally, the human biology program requires a senior year capstone course or experience, which should build on the program's theme.


Required Background:

Core Program:

In addition to the stated background in Chemistry, Math, Biology and statistics, five (5) Biology plus four coherently-grouped Theme courses, plus a Senior-year Capstone course or project. (see description of Capstone at http://biology.brown.edu/bug/human-biology.

BIOLOGY: a thoughtful advisor-approved grouping of five courses, including Genetics, which can be fulfilled in the following ways:

NOTE: These latter two options involve TWO courses, both of which would therefore count as part of the five biology course portion of the program.

Also, BIOL 0480 serves as the organismal/population biology course that is required.

THEME: four courses

The unifying theme in this program is Human Health and Disease. With advisor's assistance, a subfocus is chosen, and must include four (4) appropriate and cohesively-grouped courses, from non- BIOL, non- NEUR offerings such as: CLPS, PHP, EDUC, GNSS, SOC, ANTH, HIST, SCSO, ETHN, ENVS, AFRI, PPAI, and sections of BIOL 1920; others by approval or suggestion of the advisor. Approved courses must be suitable for concentrators, and at least one must be advanced (<1000 level in the discipline).

Examples of thematic subfoci that may describe a course grouping include (but are not necessarily limited to):

Senior Capstone Activity:  May be fulfilled by an independent activity such as an approved relevant advanced course, or seminar or, Directed Research (eg, BIOL 1950/1960, or an independent study in another Department if approved by the concentration advisor),or an appropriate internship accompanied by a scholarly paper written under the direction of a Brown faculty mentor.

  1. The Capstone activity must be approved by the concentration advisor and must be carried out DURING the senior year.


  2. Honors in Human Biology is based on approved Capstone research that yields a thesis and oral presentation, plus quality grades. (see more information about Honors at http://biology.brown.edu/bug/honors)



Page last updated in February, 2012.

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