Question (demise of botany)

Sat Nov 14 12:33:03 EST 1998

Actually, in some ways, botany lasted longer than zoology.

When I began to study biology (in the mid 60s) there were the following

1) Two semesters of soup-to-nuts biology which mixed some aspects of plant and
animal organismic biology with what molecular could be mustered then (DNA
replication and protein synthesis were relatively new to science pedagogy).
This was what I took. There is now a trend to restore this option, in my
limited observation. (the good old biology I & II)

2) "Botany", which was an introduction to biological science with, perhaps, a
smidgeon of plant kingdoms and all plant examples for the major phenomena;
cells, osmosis, respiration, transpiration, photosynthesis, genetics, etc.
(the good old botany 1)

3) "Zoo 1" which was an introduction to biology without a specific reference
to plant or animal biology (no leaves or stems) but in which the inclinations
of the instructor could let one or the other dominate except for
photosynthesis. In a worst case scenario a student may come away from such a
course without a good concept of a cell wall.

4) "Zoology" which was a survey of the animal kingdom. (the good old zoo 2)

In my experience it was in zoology departments where fundamentals of biology
(Zoo 1 above), as we now know it, was born. Botany departments persisted in
the notion that one could have a full biological education without significant
reference to animals. In this regard, organismic botany persisted longer than
its zoological counter parts and botany departments sounded their own death
knell. Who knows of an animal taxonomy course? Who on this list took one?

In reality it is not botany but organismic biology which is being neglected.
It isn't a conscious decision but the direction of a headless body of
pedagogs, administrators, and research scientists.

Dave Williams, Science Department Chair
Valencia Community College, East Campus
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
Orlando, FL 32825
Email: profdhw at
Vmail: 407-299-5000 Ext. 2443

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