Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Do Biology Classes have to much emphisis on Molecular Biology

  1. Mar 10, 2012 #1
    I have worked in the field of wildlife biology for years and have recently switched professions to teaching. One of my biggest concerns with the current biology curriculum is that it seems way too obsessed with it's molecular aspects. I think this over-focus can be extremely harmful to the field of biology for a couple of reasons.

    1. It can drive the interest and passion out of a student who might be taking it because of an deep seeded interest in aspects that are more macroscopic (such as a fascination with vertebrate structure and function etc).

    2. It lends itself to this to the zealotry and heavy handed dogmatism that some scientists seem to hold so tightly to which, I fear, will both stifle peoples sense of awe and wonder, as well as close future scientists off from exploring new and novel theories and ideas.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Welcome to the forums. It would help for clarity if you told us at what level you are teaching at and under which system (i.e. country). I went through British education and my experience of biology was highly diverse (biochemistry, cell biology, anatomy, animal studies, ecology etc) at GCSE, A-level and my first year of university. After my first year I choose to specialise towards biochemistry and I still found a huge diversity beyond simple molecular biology so I have not found what you have. Molecular biology does pervade a lot of modern biology but that is because biology is fundamentally molecular.
    True but I have not experienced a curriculum that focused mainly or solely on molecular biology other than when I specialised at university.
    I am completely flummoxed by this statement, why exactly would a molecular focus give rise to "zealotry" and "dogmatism" or prevent future scientists exploring novel theories and ideas?
  4. Mar 10, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I think it's because biology is realizing how much cooler chemistry is than icky biology. :tongue:
  5. Mar 10, 2012 #4
    Here's a fantastic blog article (read the responses too) similarly related to this subject. In a nutshell, I do agree with people who make arguments that we've become much too obsessed with molecular biological explanations and trying to understand certain pathways in order to explain a phenomena. Reductionism, especially in biology it could be argued, has produced mediocre results at best.

    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/07/07/phenotypic_screening_for_the_win.php [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Mar 10, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    OK but he won't buy that so let's tell him:

    I hope you are in your new profession enabled to go on short scientific courses. If you can, or in reading, I think you could get a lot of interest combining the traditional sort of biology that was getting forgotten, with molecular biology in the lively area known as 'evolutionary developmental biology' or evo-devo. In that field they recognise the existence of more than half a dozen species, not only E. coli, yeast, fruitfly and mouse. Tree of life and diversity is recognised, and specialists in the above canonical species actually talk to each other! I have witnessed a course where they collect specimens on the beach in the morning and then use them for the mol. biol. experiments in the day. They dug out of boxes in museums rare specimens of endangered retired blokes who could tell you if this or that crab or spider was a new species etc. Perhaps some such contacts or experiences could enliven you own enjoyment and teaching - even of the mol. biol. stuff.
  7. Mar 10, 2012 #6
    Personally I like things like Zoology more than the molecular stuff, seems too much like chemistry. I like big things, not microscopic!
  8. Mar 10, 2012 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The OP attempted to delete his OP, so thread closed.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook