The opening of Regents Hall demonstrates Georgetown’s commitment to advancing the study of the sciences. As the building’s first semester comes to a close, it is worth reflecting on how much progress has been made in fulfilling this promise.

In addition to the large increase of classrooms, the 154,000-square-foot facility is outfitted with 12 teaching labs and three floors of research labs. And with many sustainable features, including its use of recyclable materials for construction, the building is well on its way to receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification.

This integration of new technology and facilities should enable a more advanced approach to teaching and learning. Yet, at least so far at the undergraduate level, the new facilities have not done enough to improve laboratory courses.

Hallmark lab courses like “Genetics” and “General Chemistry,” which virtually all science undergraduates take, continue with the same lab procedures that were practiced in previous semesters. “Mammalian Physiology Lab,” the practical component of a course meant to explore the structures and functions of all major organ systems in the mammalian body, still involves computerized protocols. While there may be a picturesque new facility at our disposal, these classes remain dependent on the images of a computer screen.

Although it is understandable that lab professors have developed lab protocols that are tried and true, the new facilities and technology present a chance for innovation. With so much funding invested in expanding our scientific resources, there should be systemic change to meet the demand for more stimulating lab courses.

With the opening of the building, professors who were housed in the Reiss Science Building were simply transported to Regents, leaving the third through sixth floors of Reiss vacant. And while Regents offers professors an attractive and productive workspace, it offers no more physical research space than was provided in Reiss.

There is no doubt that Regents is a valuable addition to campus that many science students appreciate. However, the construction has left some important questions unanswered about the development of Georgetown’s science program. For now, maximizing this high-end facility remains far from a perfect science.

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