Biological Education

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Biological Education


a system of training biologists for scientific research institutions and as instructors in biological disciplines. Knowledge of biology is provided in the training of specialists in medicine, agriculture, pedagogy, and other fields requiring special natural science education. Biology is taught in general-education schools as a required school subject. Biological education has philosophical value; it aids in the formation of materialist concepts of animate nature and in the struggle against religious prejudices. In the USSR the training of specialists with higher education in biology is accomplished in biology and biology-soil departments of universities and in departments of natural science; in biology-chemistry and biology-geography divisions of pedagogical institutes; and in medical, agricultural, veterinary, ichthyological, and a few other institutions of higher learning.

In Russia biology instruction began in the middle of the 18th century at the medical department of Moscow University, and then in the 19th century at medical departments of the universities of Derpt (now Tartu), Kazan, and Kharkov. From the 1840’s biological disciplines were included in the curricula of agricultural institutes that were being founded at that time.

During the 19th century important scientific biological schools and orientations emerged at Moscow University, St. Petersburg University, and other universities, several of which received worldwide recognition and became the best of their kind. However, biological education as an independent branch of specialized education developed only after the Great October Socialist Revolution. From 1923 to 1927 independent biology departments or divisions were opened in many universities, and the network of pedagogical institutes with biology divisions spread. During the period of Soviet power a government system has been created for training specialists with higher general-biology (university or pedagogical institute) education and specialized biological education (medical and agricultural).

Biology and biology-soil departments of universities (in some universities chemistry-biology, biology-geography, and natural science departments) train broadly educated biologists with narrow specialties in certain branches of biological science (botany, zoology, plant physiology, microbiology, cytology, biophysics, biochemistry, virology, genetics, and others), and also specialists in fields of related sciences (cyto-chemistry, biochemical genetics, ecological physiology, bionics, and others), and soil scientists and agrochemists. Biological education is composed of the study of the general scientific disciplines (physics, mathematics, chemistry, history of the CPSU, scientific communism, political economy, philosophy, and so on) and the biological disciplines. The biological disciplines are divided into general courses (studied by all students) and special ones (electives for in-depth training in a special branch of biology). General courses include botany, zoology, microbiology, biochemistry, cytology, histology and embryology, plant physiology, physiology of animals and man, genetics and the fundamentals of selection, and biophysics. Besides special courses in the general biological disciplines, there is specialization in such branches of biological science as the ecology of animals and plants, botanical geography, plant genetics, genetics of microorganisms, virology, radiobiology, vitaminology, and protistology. Moreover, soil scientists and agrochemists who also acquire extensive learning in the field of biology are trained in the universities. The training period in biology departments of universities is five to six years (depending on the mode of study—daytime, evening, or correspondence). In 1969 there were biology departments (specialties) in 42 universities (over 40,000 students; annual number of graduates over 5,000 persons).

In the pedagogical institutes biological education is, as a rule, complex and assures the training of teachers in two special fields: teachers of biology and chemistry, biology and fundamentals of agricultural production, or biology and geography. Students in pedagogical institutes study general scientific and biological disciplines, specialized courses of their own choosing, and also courses from the pedagogy series, including methodology of teaching biology. In addition, included in the program for training teachers of biology and fundamentals of agriculture, is a broad group of agronomy disciplines. The training period at pedagogical institutes is four to five years (depending on the mode of study and the particular major). In 1969, 125 pedagogical institutes were training biology teachers (over 104,000 students, including 57,000 with two specialties); the annual number of graduates was approximately 15,000, including 9,300 with two specialties.

Graduates of medical and agricultural institutions of higher learning receive supplementary biological education. The curricula of medical institutions of higher learning include obligatory courses in biology and parasitology, biochemistry, microbiology, normal anatomy, and histology with cytology and embryology. Curricula of agricultural institutions of higher learning include general and special courses in biology, zoology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology of farm animals, plant physiology, botany and geobotany, and biochemistry.

As a result of the vigorous development of biological science and of the constantly growing needs of the national economy for specialists with education in biology, the number of graduating biologists specializing in such fields of science as biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, virology, radiobiology, and molecular biology has substantially increased. Divisions and subdepartments of biophysics and biochemistry are being created in the biology, physics-mathematics, and chemistry departments of universities and other institutions of higher learning. The University of Novosibirsk has a medicine-biology division which graduates theoreticians in the field of medicine. The Second Moscow Medical Institute trains physician-biophysicists and physician-biochemists. The training of biology specialists for scientific and pedagogical work is accomplished through graduate work, including that in many scientific research institutes. Specialists with physics, chemistry, and mathematics training are produced through the system of graduate work in biology. The resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR “On Measures for the Further Development of Biological Science and Strengthening Its Ties With Practical Work” (1963), in which measures are envisaged for the further development of biological, medical, and agricultural education, has had decisive significance in improving the system of biological education.

Biological education has also undergone great development abroad. Among the most important centers of biological education are the universities of California (USA), Oxford (Great Britain), Paris, Warsaw, Charles (Czechoslovak

Socialist Republic), and Berlin (German Democratic Republic).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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