Neuroscience Program

Director: Alo Basu
Academic Administrative assistant: Laura Cortés

The neuroscience program encourages students to develop a broad base of foundational knowledge and skills across STEM disciplines, which is then applied as students acquire a deep understanding of principles, techniques, and unanswered questions in neuroscience. This integrative program provides unique opportunities for students to integrate knowledge and approaches from multiple disciplines. Students will thus be empowered to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to confront complex challenges related to the structure and function of nervous systems. The neuroscience program is committed to providing a core curriculum that implements pedagogical practices that foster diversity, equity and inclusion, is accessible to all Holy Cross students, and promotes student success.

Integrative and Inclusive

The Holy Cross neuroscience program takes a unique approach to undergraduate neuroscience education, one which emphasizes the integrative nature of the field.1 The program aims to support and enhance student learning across the sciences, mathematics, and philosophy. The integrative core curriculum shows students explicit links between neuroscience and contributing disciplines, and uses principles of inclusive pedagogy and engaged learning approaches that promote student success.

The neuroscience core curriculum diagram

The neuroscience core curriculum, illustrated in the center of the spiral image above, is designed to facilitate students in their development of a broad-based proficiency in STEM. Students in the neuroscience program engage with fundamental concepts in related disciplines repeatedly and under different contexts, strengthening their interdisciplinary awareness.

1 Basu A.C., Hill A.S., Isaacs, A.K., Mondoux M.A., Mruczek R.E.B., & Narita T. (2021). Integrative STEM Education for Undergraduate Neuroscience: Design and Implementation. Neuroscience Letters, 746: 135660.

Learning Goals of the Neuroscience Major

Students who complete the neuroscience major will:

  • Discover major principles and processes of nervous system structure and function.
  • Achieve a grasp of the major modes of neuroscience inquiry at multiple levels of analysis (genetic, molecular, cellular, circuit, systems, behavioral, and cognitive).
  • Become proficient in critical reading and discussion of neuroscience literature.
  • Achieve broad-based foundational proficiency in the natural and quantitative sciences.
  • Apply neuroscience in an intellectually sound manner to address fundamental questions and societal challenges.

Neuroscience Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

As Holy Cross neuroscience faculty, we recognize the existence of structural inequality in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, such that student experiences of equal access and opportunities to succeed are systematically affected by social factors including race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.1 In seeking to build an inclusive neuroscience program, we make the following commitments:

  1. We will listen with respect to student concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will not react with defensive responses.
  2. In developing and revising the neuroscience core curriculum, we will employ inclusive pedagogy, which respects diverse social identities and backgrounds.2
  3. We will conduct an annual anonymous student experience survey of neuroscience students which includes questions about program diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  4. We will host an annual listening session to learn about student experiences in the neuroscience program.

1 Riegle-Crumb, C., King, B., and Irizarry, Y. (2019). Does STEM stand out? Examining racial/ethnic gaps in persistence across postsecondary fields. Educational Researcher, 48 (3), 133-144

2 Florian, L. (2015). Conceptualizing Inclusive Pedagogy: The Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action. Inclusive Pedagogy Across the Curriculum, 7, 11-24.