dumping plant bio?

Esther McLaughlin mclaugh at augsburg.edu
Fri May 4 09:29:47 EST 2001

We have kept not only a required organismal introductory semester 
which includes plants & fungi but also the requirement for one 
upper-division organismal plant course (choice of two we offer) and 
one upper division organismal animal course (choice of three we 
offer) in addition to the other major requirements.  So of course I'm 
happy about that.  Our reasoning is that we want to provide a 
broad-based major which will provide education across the entire 
range of our discipline. But your problem goes beyond liberal arts 
	The Univ. of Minnesota tried to dump its Plant Biology Dept. 
a few years ago.  The attempt failed, _partly_ because the faculty 
were able to cite an NSF report which studied the fate of plant 
biology and concluded that Plant Bio deptartments should be 
maintained if appropriate attention was going to continue to be paid 
to plants (as opposed to disappearing as emphasis shifted to microbes 
& animal  models).  I don't know where you might find that report. 
In any case, I am just paranoid enough to believe that when animal or 
prokaryotically inclined collegues claim they'll somehow make the 
curriculum include "enough" plant & fungal stuff, they may be sincere 
but they are probably wrong.
	On another note, as another respondant indicated, there is no 
more justification for eliminating organismally focussed uper 
division animal courses than for eliminating similar plant courses. 
Organismal biology should remain a part of every college's 
curriculum, but if we don't watch carefully, such courses get axed, 
in the name of moderization. One way to help solve this problem is at 
the hiring stage in all biology departments.
Esther G. McLaughlin
Associate Professor of Biology
Augsburg College
2211 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis MN 55454 USA
612/330-1074 // FAX:612/330-1076


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