Mission Statement

The diverse course offerings in biology include (L-R) Mammalogy, Bacteriology, Neurophysiology, various short term courses funded by Maine INBRE at the Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and Electron Microscopy.


field trip picture

Students actively engage in field work in Bio 270 (Ecology and Evolution).

Our mission is to provide an outstanding, comprehensive undergraduate program in the life sciences within the context of a liberal arts education. In our students we foster a fundamental understanding of the principles that govern living systems and the methods used to study these systems. We prepare students for future careers in the life sciences, to understand biological issues, and to use scientific thinking in their future lives. We offer classes and laboratory sessions that include inquiry-based studies, and we emphasize scientific thought, not just the acquisition of information. Our program promotes the development of problem-solving, writing, quantitative, and critical-thinking skills; it also nurtures independent research, collaborative effort, and self-expression. We value cross-disciplinary approaches in the pursuit of knowledge and skills. Faculty accessibility to students is a priority, and we offer small classes, labs, and research experiences that promote student and faculty interaction. We seek to increase the participation of underrepresented segments of the population in our programs and to support the high achievement of all students. To sustain these values and goals we recruit diverse faculty and staff with research and teaching strengths that complement our program and enrich our vision.

Our curriculum is organized around these shared values. We offer introductory courses – open to any Bates College student – that provide in-depth coverage over a broad range of topics. Three core courses for majors build essential skills and incorporate collaborative investigative laboratory studies: we named this the Principal Investigator system, and it is based on methodology used in scientific research. Upper-level electives and independent study opportunities span all subdisciplines and all levels of biological organization, and provide avenues for the pursuit of the specialized interests of majors and students in interdisciplinary programs. Upper-level students have opportunities to serve as laboratory teaching assistants, peer writing assistants, and peer-assisted learning group leaders. We value independent intellectual growth, and a required two-course senior capstone experience can be fulfilled using a variety of options: thesis, seminar and research, senior seminar, approved off-campus research, and service learning experiences.