Teaching microbiology to undergraduate students in the humanities and the social sciences

Aharon Oren*

*Corresponding author for this work

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2 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes my experiences teaching a 28-hour course on the bacterial world for undergraduate students in the humanities and the social sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This course was offered in the framework of a program in which students must obtain credit points for courses offered by other faculties to broaden their education. Most students had little biology in high school and had never been exposed to the basics of chemistry. Using a historical approach, highlighting the work of pioneers such as van Leeuwenhoek, Koch, Fleming, Pasteur, Winogradsky and Woese, I covered a broad area of general, medical, environmental and evolutionary microbiology. The lectures included basic concepts of organic and inorganic chemistry necessary to understand the principles of fermentations and chemoautotrophy, and basic molecular biology to explain biotechnology using transgenic microorganisms and molecular phylogeny. Teaching the basics of microbiology to intelligent students lacking any background in the natural sciences was a rewarding experience. Some students complained that, in spite of my efforts, basic concepts of chemistry remained beyond their understanding. But overall the students' evaluation showed that the course had achieved its goal.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberfnv162
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - 31 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© FEMS 2015. All rights reserved.


  • General bacteriology
  • history of science
  • humanities
  • medical microbiology
  • social sciences
  • undergraduate studies


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