Trinity One Science Stream Launch

controlled experiment

Small seminars, big ideas coming for science students in 2014

By Caitlin Agnew ’06

Since the launch of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program in 2005, hundreds of first-year arts students have benefitted from smaller class sizes, increased interaction with faculty, and opportunities to debate ideas and present their work. This invaluable experience would not have been possible without donations from alumni and others, and endowments including the Raymond Pryke Chair, established by Raymond Pryke ’51 to ensure the ongoing growth and development of the program.

But what about science students, who make up approximately 35 per cent of Trinity’s population?

“Those students typically take either three or four science courses in their first year. These are all very good courses, but they all have classes in excess of 1,000 students,” says Interim Provost Dr. Michael Ratcliffe.

Establishing and funding two science streams in the Trinity One program, which are set to begin in September 2014, is now a top priority at the College. “Not only do we have a lot of science students, but they’re great students. It just seemed like a real gap in that we weren’t providing the same types of opportunities for science students that we do for students in the social sciences and humanities,” says Dr. Ratcliffe.

The first is a “hardcore science” stream, which Acting Dean of Arts and Science, Dr. Alberto Martin, describes as taking on controversial and important topics such as vaccination, stem cells and the human genome project. The second focuses on the social consequences of science, dealing with issues such as global health and science policy.

“The idea is that the Trinity One streams are self-sufficient in their own right, but at the same time there are points of intersection between them,” says Ratcliffe. “Part of the Trinity One experience is the opportunity to go to seminars by guest speakers — and ideally, we want to be able to bring in speakers who are of interest to more than one stream of the Trinity One program.”

The new program may also fund summer internships, to offer students immersive lab research placements with various university departments and local hospitals. “Beyond the ‘real world,’hands-on experience they provide, those internships also give students a definite edge when it comes to getting into graduate school and medical school,” says Ratcliffe.

SachinKumar ’12, who graduated from Trinity’s human biology program and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in molecular genetics at the University of Toronto, says that a Trinity One program for science students would have made a huge difference during his first year.

“The transition between high school and university is quite difficult at times,” he says. “Personally, I know that getting the chance to interact more closely with professors and discuss class and career ideas with classmates would have really helped shape the learning strategies I stumbled upon much later in my undergraduate career.”

The new Trinity One science streams will take science students well beyond establishing a primary knowledge base and help them develop self-confidence and leadership skills, says Ratcliffe. “We want to send our science graduates into the world asking important questions and seeking thoughtful responses because we believe they have the potential to help solve the world’s problems. The Trinity One program can help make this possible.”