As a senior, I chose to take a capstone in my major, and that course turned out to be neurochemistry. Prior to taking neurochemistry, I had little to no neuroscience experience. This was frightening as well as exciting. I was worried I would just be lost in the content due to jumping into an upper level class with no prior experience, but I was also excited at the idea that I could get some insight on a whole new field of chemistry.
To be honest, the learning curve was steep. I had no idea what what going on for the first month or so. But after that, things started to click. I started to make connections just like any other class I’ve taken and since then I’ve grown to enjoy it. The most intriguing part of this class was how we brought the topics we were dealing with in class to a broader, more universally applicable level, instead of just focusing on what happens in a textbook or in a lab. The class essentially looked at a review article focusing on one neurological topic (usually a neurological-related disease/condition), worked as a class to understand the topic, and then discussed the relevant issues pertaining to the topic. We talked a lot about how the topic applied to society and how it will affect future generations. We talked about the politics, beliefs, and habits of our society and how they pertained to the topic. It was unlike any other science class I had taken before, and I really enjoyed it .
The bottom line is that most classes I have taken are lecture based and, for the most part, are pretty contained to themselves. The topics are discussed in a very limited scope and there usually isn’t a drive to take the information we have learned outside of the classroom or lab. With my capstone class, I was almost doing the exact opposite. We figured out how things were working as a class and then looked at how we could bring that information out into the non-scientific community. As a scientist, I know this is what I’m eventually going to have to do from time to time, and this class has been a huge benefit in showing me how to do that. I think it’s important for any subject to be able to communicate it’s issues to other areas of study, and science is no exception. Overall, I feel my capstone experience demonstrated the goals of a liberal education, and I am glad I took the course.