. "4 Education in Limnology: Current Status and Recommendations for Improvement." Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1996.
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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology
limnology and recommends strategies for improving it to meet these three goals.
LIMNOLOGY UNDER THE CURRENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Limnology programs at American colleges and universities are highly fragmented across departments. Ironically, the main cause of this fragmentation is derived from one of the strengths of limnology as a science: it is highly interdisciplinary. As a result, limnology lacks a single "home" in the university system. Instead, limnologists and the limnology-related courses they teach are housed in a variety of departments, such as biology, civil engineering, geology, zoology, and many others. For example, 69 universities surveyed for this report indicated that faculty working in limnology and related disciplines are housed in 23 different types of departments (see Chapter 2 and Appendix A). The diversity in academic homes for limnologists applies within individual universities as well as among universities. For example, at the University of Minnesota, limnologists are found in at least eight departments housed in five different colleges on the Twin Cities campus. Only two universities surveyed for this report have departments that include the name "limnology": one is a department of marine science and limnology; the other is a department of zoology and limnology. While some interdisciplinary fields, such as oceanography, soil science, and forestry, have departments or schools of their own, academic limnology remains scattered and lacks well-defined degree programs.
One result of the scattering of limnology courses across departments and the lack of named degree programs is that limnology graduates produced by the various "nonlimnology" departments often lack knowledge of some critical subfields of limnology (such as physical limnology) or of the characteristics of the full range of aquatic ecosystems (streams and wetlands as well as lakes). Another result is that limnology faculty may not be replaced upon retirement if the department in which they are housed chooses to shift its emphasis elsewhere. This redirection may diminish the breadth of a university's offerings in limnology or even eliminate the university's limnology program altogether.
Undergraduate Education in Limnology Under the Current System
The fragmentation of limnological studies is especially a problem at the undergraduate level. Colleges and universities in the United States generally do not offer formal undergraduate majors specifically identified as "limnology." Students who enter this field often stumble across it accidentally by signing up for a limnology course as an elective within