Why It Matters: Introduction to Biology

Why define biology and apply its principles?

A young woman reading a textbook.It’s late September and Kendra’s studying when she gets a text from her mom: “Have you gotten your flu shot yet?” Kendra sets down her book to text her mom that, no she hasn’t had the time yet; classes have been keeping her really busy this semester. Besides, she got her flu shot last year. Her mom responds informing Kendra that her local drug store has a flu shot kiosk—one that promises a quick and easy vaccination. “If there’s a line, you could study while you wait!” her mom concludes.

Before Kendra can respond to her mom, she gets a message from her cousin Michael. He’s just sent a link to an article about genetically modified foods and the dangers they inherently contain. Before she’s finished reading the first paragraph of the article, Mike’s already sent her another one: this article lauding the paleo diet and its benefits. Kendra starts to read the article, but before she can get too far, she remembers that she was studying. She bookmarks the articles so she can read them later—then she hits the books.

Though Kendra might not realize it, she’s just been presented with three biological problems. Should she get a flu shot? Are GMOs dangerous? Are extreme diets (like the paleo diet) beneficial?

Kendra still has to make her own choices, but having an understanding of biology will help her make the best choices she can.

Learning Outcomes

  • List the defining characteristics of biological life.
  • Identify the different kinds of cells that make up different kinds of organisms.
  • Describe classification and organizational tools biologists use, including modern taxonomy.
  • Describe biology as a science and identify the key components of scientific inquiry.