Cases, Concepts, and Consequences

Our goal for Biology for the Informed Citizen was to write a book that, 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, we wove two major themes into every chapter: the process of science and the theory of evolution. Our rationale 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. We hope these stories will motivate students to think critically in their daily lives. Throughout this book we also emphasize 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.


Biology for the Informed Citizen covers the foundational concepts that comprise a standard non-science-majors biology course but does so on a “need-to-know” basis, placing biological topics within the context of important cultural and social issues, but without excessive detail. We thought carefully about which topics to include and which to omit, with the goal of providing the needed biological coverage in a framework that we hope students will enjoy reading! This book is organized into four units. (Biology for the Informed Citizen is also available “without Physiology”: omitting five chapters on homeostasis; circulation and respiration; the nervous system; infectious disease and the immune system; and nutrition, activity, and wellness.)