The invertebrate zoology debacle

SRice1947 at SRice1947 at
Thu Apr 1 22:01:57 EST 2004

I certainly agree with Kirk and Jim and the others who have voiced their 
dismay at the loss of invertebrate zoology courses from the marine biology 
curriculum but I know that the fault is not all due to molecular types. My own 
invertebrate zoology course was downgraded from required to elective in our 
marine science major due to enrollment pressure. Being a small private 
university with rather high tuition, we were under tremendous pressure to get 
students through the major in four years. The recent enrollment boom has 
stretched our teaching resources to the limit and as a result, several 
formerly required courses were lumped into categories where students choose 
one or another from a list of courses. This is a suboptimal way of designing 
curricula but have you tried to get new faculty lines lately? We simply could 
not accommodate the growing number of students in our program.  Now that my 
invertebrate zoology course is an elective, I have to compete for students 
with courses like "coral reefs in Honduras" and "behavioral biology" and 
"tropical biology in Costa Rica" which are favored by the students and the 
administration since they are effective recruiting tools.  

 I respond by engaging individual students in my research and independent 
studies hoping that they will gain a foothold and continue on. Sometimes it 
works. I feel like I have changed from an R-strategy to a K-strategy where I 
put more effort into individual students hoping to launch them into careers 
with invertebrates. We all have to do our best under the circumstances to 
compensate for the changes that are coming.  

Stanley A. Rice
Department of Biology
University of Tampa
Tampa, FL 33606
srice at 

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