Akbarsha MA. and Sathyanarayana MC. Modernising Biology Education and Replacement of Dissections: The Success Story of a Team Effort. Paper presented at: Alternatives in the Mainstream: Innovations in Life Science Education and Training. 2nd InterNICHE Conference; 2005 May 12-15; Oslo, Norway


Fifty years back Zoology was studied only in the perspectives of Taxonony, Comparative Anat-omy, Descriptive Embryology and Organic Evolution, when dissection was prescribed to under-stand comparative anatomy and evolutionary trends. There were fewer students and, hence, fewer animals were killed. The environment was less contaminated and, therefore, the animal populations recovered. Physiology and Ecology soon emerged as lead areas in Biology when
laboratory exercises in these subjects were included in the curriculum, but dissections still con-tinued. Functional Anatomy, Cytology, Genetics, Ecological Energetics and Experimental Em-bryology emerged as newer areas in Biology but little could be done for laboratory exercises in these subjects, and dissections continued. Later, Biochemistry emerged as the subject of learning as well as a tool. The quantity of knowledge to be disseminated to the students increased and,
hence, learning of Anatomy and Evolution was pushed to the background, but again dissections continued. The latest trend in Life Sciences is Molecular Biology, which is also a subject of learning as well as a tool. Justifiably, there is pertinent need to shift to the several contemporary fields of Biology in respect of laboratory exercises but we have done little and continue to have dissections. This is within the context of several times more students taking Zoology and the deterioration of the environment such that the recovery of the animal populations is in jeopardy.
It is positive that Biodiversity has recently emerged as an area of awareness in Biology. Thus, with Biodiversity, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology having become the thrust areas in Biolo-gy education, the study of Anatomy needs to be reduced. What little Anatomy that needs to be studied in the laboratory can as well be done using models, charts, the internet, CD ROMs and virtual laboratories, thus saving thousands of animals. A team of Zoology educators, proconservationists and animal activists, in collaboration with InterNICHE, have adopted this and several other approaches to successfully reduce animal dissection in the Zoology curriculum in several universities in Tamilnadu, India.