Biology and Society Major

The Biology & Society Major is designed for students who wish to combine training in biology with perspectives from the social sciences and humanities on the social, political and ethical aspects of modern biology. Students examine the impact of genetic engineering and new medical technologies; the influence of heredity versus environment on human behavior; issues surrounding environmental quality and sustainability; and the ethical, legal, and social aspects of modern medicine. 

Students who complete the requirements for the Biology & Society major leave Cornell with well-developed writing and analytical skills and with the ability to confront complex issues.

Employment Fields

  • Healthcare
  • Law & Legal Services
  • Research
  • General Business
  • Social Services & Non-Profits
  • Health Services administration
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Nutrition
  • Public Health
  • Environmental Studies

What recent graduates are doing

  • Practicing physicians and public health professionals around the world
  • Graduate work in health administration, communication, and science & technology studies
  • Biological research
  • Biology teacher
  • Policy development in state and federal agencies
  • Legal Assistant, Intern Investigator
  • Healthcare Research Analyst
  • Software Training Specialist
  • Management Consulting Analyst
  • HIV Research Analyst
  • Physician Office Assistant
  • Sales Consultant
  • Starlight Children's Foundation Program Coordinator
  • Research Technician

Sample Classes

BSOC 3011 Life Sciences and Society

Biology and biotechnology are major sources of influence on personal and social life. Additionally, social and historical conditions have profound influence on biological research, and on the applications of such research in medicine, agriculture, and other fields. Biological research itself is a social process involving personal and commercial competition, different styles of work and interpretation, and complex human interactions. This course aims to introduce students to basic science and technology studies (S&TS) perspectives on biological knowledge and biotechnology.

BSOC 2061 Ethics and the Environment

Politicians, scientists, and citizens worldwide face many environmental issues today, but they are neither simple nor straightforward. Moreover, there are many ways to understand how humans have, do, and could value the environment from animal rights and wise use to deep ecology and ecofeminism. This class acquaints students with some of the challenging moral issues that arise in the context of environmental management and policy-making, both in the past and the present.

NS 1150 Nutrition, Health and Society

Discusses the facts and fallacies concerning the role that nutrition, exercise, and other health behaviors play in preventing disease, maintaining good health, and maximizing athletic performance. Emphasis is on understanding the biological mechanisms through which good nutrition and regular exercise affect psychological and physical health.

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