Field of Science

Botany programs in decline - UK version

Botany as a subject is definitely in decline in universities, the unfortunate victim of popularity. It's been a 40 year trend now, and shows no sign of improving anytime soon. Here's a recent news item from the UK. Of course, there are more reasons than ever to study plants, and more reasons than ever to be producing more botanists. For example, upwards of 50% of all the botanists employed by the federal government will retire in the next 10-15 years. No one knows where the replacements are going to come from. Botany departments and degree programs have gradually been incorporated into biology departments and biology majors, where as the minority, botany continues to lose the numbers game. Biology has become so human-biomedically oriented that botany becomes marginalized. About 10% of our majors find plants interesting, but all too often students who take a botany elective in their senior year find out, all too late, that plants are fun and interesting. In an effort to interest kids in plants at a younger age, the Botanical Society of America operates a collaborative effort (Planting Science) to have grade school teachers conduct plant research with their classes and professional mentors. It is a worry especially when your alma mater, long known for its botany program, makes the error of combining separate departments into one.

No comments: