Neurochemistry And The Capstone Experience

Being a student at Concordia college there is a list of things that are expected of me, and my fellow students. These expectations are based off of receiving a liberal arts education, which is meant to help students…

  1. Instill a love for learning
  2. Develop foundational skills and transferable intellectual capacities
  3. Develop an understanding of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives and their connections
  4. Cultivate an examined cultural, ethical, physical and spiritual self-understanding
  5. Encourage responsible participation in the world


At the beginning of this semester I came into this class with a survey of organic and biochem level knowledge on the topic. Many of the other students had taken organic chemistry and biochemistry courses and had a pretty knowledgable background on the topics we were covering. I came in as a psychology major that had recently declared a neuroscience major as well and still had many classes left to take for neuroscience. Needless to say, the first couple weeks of this class were a struggle. I did my absolute best to understand the information we covered, but at times it got hard and that is okay.

For those that do not know, the first couple weeks in this class are meant for reviewing various pathways in the brain and what each pathway does. This knowledge is the basis for the rest of the class. After we finished covering the basics, each week we read one article that involved one of the pathways we covered and would discuss the science and social implications of each topic. Some of the topics that were covered were schizophrenia, addiction, alzheimers, obesity, and endocannabinoids.

After that first week of reading an article, my worries about this class had turned around. Taking the time to go through each pathway one week at a time and applying it to real life situations is truly helpful. These different articles, though they may be dense with information, are extremely interesting to read and once we talk about them in class and help each other better understand what is happening in the brain with each topic, they really open your eyes to how sensitive our bodies really are. Its beautiful to think about how fragile human beings truly are, but despite all that can go wrong, in mosts cases everything goes right.


Our class partnered with a social work class for a group project. The goal of the project was to go out into the community and inform its members about various problems in our society. My group researched the opiate epidemic that is currently happening not only in the country but in the Fargo-Moorhead area. We held an event at the West Acres community room, where our group members presented on the science and stigma behind opioid addictions and then had a panel of speakers talk about their experiences with it. My group wanted to help reduce the bad stigma towards being an opioid addict within our community. Once the event was over, we were informed that the resources we provided the audience helped someone find and get the treatment that they needed. This alone was what made our event successful and all worth it. By becoming responsibly engaged in the world, or our community, we were able to change at least one life for the better and hopefully left a good impression on many others.

This class was a series of ups and downs between working with a group, reading and attempting to understand the science behind the different topics we covered, and remember how the different pathways work for the two exams. As a capstone course, I wouldn’t have expected anything less and I have learned so much throughout the semester, I am truly glad for having taken this course. The style of learning helped me and i’m sure others in class as well. Being a capstone course, it was our jobs as students to teach each other and not simply sit there and be lectured at for over an hour each class. We had to research topics of interest each week and tell our fellow classmates what we had learned. This was beneficial to my learning experience because not only was I forced to do outside research for the class, but I had to present it to others in a manner that made sense and this helped me better understand the material. I was forced to go outside of my comfort zone and it paid off in the end. Most classes you cram for an exam and then forget half of the information, but that is not the case with neurochemistry. The material we covered and in the manner we covered it, made the class fun and interesting, therefore making the material easier to remember.

Fridays were the best days of the week because we had the opportunity to sit in comfy chairs and simply discuss the information we covered throughout the week. It was nice having the opportunity in class to debrief and help each other process what the week entailed. On these days, we also had the opportunity to go to a coffee shop one day and to the village inn another time. Overall, taking a semester of neurochemistry was probably the best decision I made this semester for classes. All of the elements that go into a capstone course are in line with the expectations of having a liberal arts education, and I can honestly say this class instilled a newfound love for learning that doesn’t involve cramming for a test to get a good grade, just to forget the information later on. Although I was worried about the class at the start, things turned around and I would record neurochemistry to other students that have a love for science as well.