Frontiers of Science

Who we are as humans, individually and collectively, in a scientific context.

illustration depicting two people considering the galaxy

Examining the World Around Us

Frontiers of Science is a one-semester course that integrates modern science into Columbia's Core Curriculum. Its goal is to challenge students to think about the world around them, and the ways in which science can help us answer questions about nature and ourselves. The course focuses on the commonalities of the scientific approach to inquiry as exemplified by four areas of active research and discovery: mind and brain, astrophysics, biodiversity, and Earth science. Students engage in lectures with leading scientists, along with senior faculty and Columbia Science Fellows (PhD research scientists selected for their teaching abilities) in seminar discussions.  They discuss the lecture and associated readings,  undertake in-class activities, and debate the implications of the most recent scientific discoveries. 

The course helps instill the skills – scientific habits of mind – that characterize scientific inquiry. The topics provide a rich context for learning how to think scientifically. In turn, the acquired habits of mind will help students understand how we know what we know, as well as how we will go about exploring some of the important open questions that remain.