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About the Book

Biology for the Informed Citizen with Physiology, more than any other non-science-majors biology book, helps students connect the concepts of biology to the consequences of biology —the consequences that students can and should see in every facet of their lives, if only they were trained to identify them. This text teaches the concepts of biology, evolution, and the process of science so that students can apply their knowledge as informed consumers and users of scientific information.

In order to help students become biologically and scientifically literate, two major themes are woven into every chapter: the process of science and the theory of evolution. The rationale for this approach is that if students are going to learn and then apply what they have learned, they need to know not only “what we know,” but also “how we know what we know.” Therefore, each chapter includes stories of real scientists who had interests and curiosities—not altogether different from some of the students reading this text. Hopefully, these stories will motivate students to think critically in their daily lives. The book also emphasizes the theory of evolution—the most central of all biological concepts—to help students see the big picture underlying the magnificent diversity and awe-inspiring mechanisms of the living world.


Because students come to their biology courses with a rich set of interests, Biology for the Informed Citizen with Physiology includes features to help students make connections between their present knowledge and the biology they are learning.

Case Studies

Each chapter opens with a rich case study that highlights an issue or challenge with biological significance and focuses on the consequences of biology. These cases motivate the material in each chapter and demonstrate ways in which an understanding of biology can be used to make informed decisions about important issues. Examples of cases we introduce include “Sickle Cell Disease, Malaria, and Human Evolution” (Chapter 4); “The ‘Infidelity Gene’” (Chapter 1), and “Dying for the ‘Perfect Body’” Chapter 15), which address how genes influence our health, personal relationships, and body image, respectively. The remaining sections of the chapter weave in the biology needed for a fuller understanding of the issue or challenge. As a result, students learn specific biological concepts in a context that shows why they are important and enables students to make connections between biology and other fields of study.

Process of Science

Biology in particular, and science in general, represent one way of asking questions and evaluating the answers; it is not the only way. Still, the specific manner in which scientists go about learning about the natural world is both powerful and successful. And as a way of thinking, it is practical for many questions, not just scientific ones. How Do We Know? essays featured in each chapter highlight the process of science. These essays help students move beyond memorizing facts to get them thinking critically about how we know what we know.

All too often, people do not appreciate the human dimension of biology. Everything ever discovered or solved is literally the result of a person or many people thinking about that the question being pursued was the most interesting and important thing to be found. They simply had to work on this problem—it was like an itch that had to be scratched. Scientist Spotlight essays in each chapter provide biographical information and historical context about the real individuals whose scientific discoveries have made tremendous impacts on all of our lives.

Real-World Applications

Biology does not exist as a disconnected field of study. In fact, to understand biology well, one needs to be conversant with the ways that biology connects to the larger culture. The inverse is also true: to understand our culture fully, one needs to be familiar with biology. More specifically, biological research, ideas, and knowledge intersect with global issues, ethics, and social responsibility. Life Application essays in each chapter present real-world examples illustrating how biological knowledge has been used to help individuals and society at large make informed decisions on a range of issues.

Advances in scientific research directly affect us in our day-to-day lives. A great deal of what is known in biology and continues to be studied depends on the development and implementation of specific methods and techniques. Technology Connection essays in each chapter provide students with information on specific methods or techniques that biologists use to answer questions. These essays show how the tools of scientific research are being used to shape the world in which we live.


Every chapter in Biology for the Informed Citizen with Physiology includes carefully crafted tools to help students learn and reinforce biological concepts.

Chapter Learning Objectives at the start of each chapter (based on Bloom’s taxonomy) correspond to the main headings and provide a framework for the key concepts to help students focus on what is most important.

Question-Based Chapter Titles and Section Headings model the spirit of inquiry at the heart of the scientific process.

Simple and Clear Illustrations in each chapter help students visualize important concepts. The art program uses a consistent format to help guide students through complex processes. For example, Chapter 2 introduces the steps of the scientific method, and the figures that highlight scientific experiments throughout the book help to reinforce these steps – blue: observations and facts; purple: hypotheses; pink: predictions; light green: hypothesis testing; and dark green: evaluation and/or results. Brief figure captions provide a running summary of the chapter, reinforcing main points discussed in the text.

A Marginal Glossary defines key terms in the margins of the pages on which the terms appear so students can easily find definitions and explanations when preparing for exams.

Each chapter concludes with a Biology in Perspective section that places the chapter concepts in larger context.

Bulleted Chapter Summaries at the end of each chapter are organized around the chapter learning objectives and highlight and reinforce the main concepts.

Basic multiple choice and short-answer Review Questions at the end of each chapter ask students to recall core information presented in the chapter. Answers to the multiple choice questions appear at the end of the book.

The Thinking Citizen advanced questions at the end of each chapter ask students to think critically and analytically about the main chapter concepts.

The Informed Citizen advanced questions at the end of each chapter ask students to apply biological concepts to relevant cultural and social issues.

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