Geneva’s biopsychology major is designed to provide students with a curriculum to take advantage of the dramatic advances in the understanding of the biological bases of behavior. This program is a joint effort by the biology and psychology departments.
Goals and Objectives of the B.S. in Biopsychology
Recent advances in the understanding of brain function and how it relates to behavior have led to the emergence, development and rapid expansion of a new interdisciplinary scientific field of Biopsychology. This area of study explores the relationship between physiological and psychological systems. A major objective for this discipline is to provide a deeper understanding of how the physiology of the body functions in behavior, and also how defects in such function affect behavior.
By establishing this new major, Geneva College is taking on the challenge to participate in and shape this emerging field which is in dire need of Christian critique. The current academic climate in this interdisciplinary field is strongly reflective of evolutionary and reductionistic philosophy which claims a naturalistic explanation for all biological and behavioral phenomena. Such materialistic and scientistic explanations of mind have influenced the fields of ethics, anthropology, theology and philosophy. At Geneva College we want to join the conversation and bring the metaphysical reality of the triune God to bear on the explanations of mind and body. Although we must avoid reductionistic philosophy in the study of biology and behavior, it is nevertheless clear that some behaviors and cognitive functions can be localized to specific physiological systems.
This degree program is designed to engage the area of neuroscience with Christian critique, discernment and dialogue thereby advancing Geneva College’s mission of training students to be used by God to engage and transform modern culture.
The Geneva Biopsychology Curriculum
The biopsychology degree program at Geneva College provides a curriculum which is designed to engage the discipline of neuroscience with Christian critique and discernment. This includes psychology courses having a developmental and biological approach, along with biology courses dealing with humans and/or animals at the genetic and molecular levels. Cognates in other disciplines are also required (e.g., Bible, chemistry, physics and philosophy).
The uniqueness of this program is that it integrates biology and neuroscience, Christian faith and psychology into one area of study. The physical dimension of mind is often viewed with suspicion or skepticism by the Christian community in the same way that neuroscientists often criticize any supernatural explanation of behavior. This program equips students to explore the relations between mind and body and to critique the methods, experimental design, and interpretation of research in the field. Students will also have the necessary Biblical and philosophical background integrated with their scientific expertise to fully engage current scholarship in the field.
Careers for Biopsychology Majors
There are many careers that have their basis in the study of the brain and its influence on human behavior.
Students with an undergraduate degree in biopsychology can often find entry-level positions in biomedical research laboratories as technicians, in pharmaceutical or health product companies as marketing or sales representatives, and in federal, state and local public health programs as health analysts or managers.
A degree in biopsychology can also provide the foundation for graduate training in clinical psychology and counseling. Students who are interested in continuing their study of biopsychology at the graduate level can do so in a diverse number of fields within behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. For example, neuropsychologists study the brain/behavior interaction, especially as it relates to cognitive function. Physiological psychologists (also known as psychobiologists or biological psychologists) study the neural basis of behavior.
This major can also lead to a career in human factors psychology. This emerging discipline studies the interaction between humans and technology. For example, a human factors psychologist might be involved with improving the ergonomics or human user-friendliness of computer software to medical devices.
Facilities include several areas of lab space in the biology department housed in the Science & Engineering Building. Lab equipment includes a broad array of behavioral testing devices for rats and mice, and a variety of recording devices for human neurological testing (EEG, EMG. etc). The program uses an IACUC approved animal care facility and has the necessary equipment and instruments for experiments in cellular and molecular neurobiology. Biopsychology students have access to 21 computer workstations dedicated solely to the biology and psychology departments for research, data collection, and statistical analysis.
Christian Neuroscience Society (www.cneuroscience.org)
Geneva College’s Center for Urban Biblical Ministry (CUBM) in Pittsburgh educates urban students for effective service in their local communities.