“To live in this age presupposes some knowledge of our biological equipment,” according to an early SLC course catalogue. While Sarah Lawrence has never shied away from the study of our biological equipment—or any other scientific topic—it has never had the resources to “do” science comprehensively until the Science Building’s arrival in 1994. But the Sarah Lawrence seminar/conference system provides a perfect structure for their pursuit.
In its opening year, the College offered classes in botany, chemistry, mathematics, physics, psychology and zoology—all under the heading “Natural Sciences.” In the ensuing decades, students have pored over paramecia, calculated chemical reactions, examined exponents and dissected dead rats. The creative freedom that characterizes other fields of study at SLC doesn’t stop short of the laboratory; science students use their conferences to formulate their own hypotheses about current issues, designing experiments to test their theories.
And Sarah Lawrence science isn’t just for the test-tube junkie. Dance students take physiology, art students study physics, anthropology students investigate brain chemistry, sociology students consider the biological effects of drug use—and so on, disciplines crossed with the light step that is familiar to anyone who’s studied at the College. Dean Barbara Kaplan thinks that science is a valuable field of study for any liberal arts student, because “modern thought as a whole has developed in a way that parallels scientific thought.” (Think germ theory, natural selection, quantum physics.)
“The sciences have a profound influence on other disciplines,” Kaplan says. “Like other fields, science is ultimately concerned with how we see ourselves and our world.” What could be more “Sarah Lawrence” than that, we ask?
Tech evolution: From an undated sensor test, to new facilities in Rothschild, including biologist Raymond Clarke's man-made living coral reef—and now the Science Center.