[FUN_Mail] advice needed

Lowrance, Steven Allen lowra1sa at cmich.edu
Wed Mar 27 15:43:18 EDT 2013

Dear Dr. DeVolder, 

As a Behavioral Neuroscientist myself, I shudder to think of closing a program, but perhaps taking the "Behavioral" off the name might make this a more attractive offering to students, and allow you to collaborate more with your Biology department. At Central Michigan University we have a thriving undergraduate Neuroscience major, which is fairly Biology heavy (Mammalian Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Human Anatomy, etc) but also requires a fair number of Psychology courses as well. There ends up being so much overlap that many of our Neuroscience students end up double majoring in Psychology. Although we have traditionally required a directed research course, this has now become an elective, since many of our students are Pre-Med, Pre-PA, and Pre-PT students that see that this is a solid major for health professions careers. 

Another strategy to boost enrollment, which you may have already explored, is creating special topics courses that can introduce Neuroscience to non-Neuroscience majors. I teach part time at a local community college, and have found that my General Psychology students typically feel overwhelmed when I start discussing neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters--But when I explain Neuroscience in terms of how alcohol, nicotine, and hot wings affect their brains, they get excited about it. As a result, I pitched a Drugs and Behavior course, which the students loved. My first Neuroscience class as an undergraduate was a Psychology Special Topics: Hormones and Behavior, which really sparked my interest. We also host an annual Brain Bee and Brain Awareness Week events which have also helped our recruiting efforts. 

I know I am still a little wet behind the ears in this profession, but it would seem that moving to a more generic and interdisciplinary approach (rather than a very specific sub-discipline of Neuroscience) will boost enrollment in both Psychology and Biology courses, and build support for your program within the college. 

Best of luck! 


Steven Lowrance, MS, ABD 
Central Michigan University 
PhD Program in Neuroscience 

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