Augustana University will offer neuroscience as a minor beginning in the fall of 2022 — adding to the list of interdisciplinary academic programs being developed as part of Augustana’s strategic plan Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030. Currently, neuroscience is offered as an emphasis area for biology and psychology majors.
“I had students in so many disciplines interested in neuroscience — computer science, biochemistry, communication disorders majors,” Kloth said. “So, I started to develop the neuroscience program to give students across campus an opportunity to study neuroscience, and do so in an interdisciplinary way.”
The minor will consist of two core classes, behavioral neuroscience and neurophysiology, which, along with the prerequisites, will give students a strong foundation in both biology and psychology. Then, students will select three elective courses, which will come from departments such as biology, psychology, education, philosophy, computer science and communication disorders. The program culminates with a capstone course.
“The students will look back and ask, ‘What is my idea of neuroscience now?’” Kloth said. “Then, they’ll look forward and ask, ‘How can I use this after I graduate?’ and third, the capstone will bring all these different majors together to share this perspective on the importance of neuroscience.”
Kevin Schumacher ‘24 is a biology major with minors in chemistry and, soon, neuroscience.
“I’m interested in neuroscience because the brain is very complex and exciting to learn about, but it is all the unknown about the brain that spikes my interest,” Schumacher said. “Gaining knowledge and skills through classes and research opportunities with Dr. Kloth is something I really look forward to.”
Kloth, who teaches courses in biology, neurophysiology and behavioral neuroscience, defines neuroscience as the origins of the mind.
“Defining neuroscience will vary depending on your perspective — a philosopher is going to think more about the philosophical implications of the mind itself, psychologists are going to think about behaviors and biologists are going to think about what's happening at a cellular level,” Kloth said. “Even though we're all talking about fundamentally the same thing, there are all sorts of gaps and different perspectives that our disciplines don't allow us to see. So, I think that neuroscience is a way of approaching the study of the origins of the mind from a large number of perspectives.”
Schumacher sees the new minor as another aspect that will set him apart when applying to medical school.
“This will benefit students because it shows graduate and professional schools their interest (in neuroscience), in addition to their major area of study,” said Schumacher. “Those considering adding the neuroscience minor should drop any and all doubt and just go for it. Dr. Kloth is one of the best professors I have gotten the opportunity to learn from.”
To learn more about Augustana’s major and minor offerings, visit augie.edu/program-finder.