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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teaching and Research in Animal Behaviour in South African Universities: A Survey

  • Author(s): Simbayi, Leickness C
  • et al.

A qualitative questionaire-based survey of psychology and biology/zoology departments at all 21 universities found in the Republic of South Africa was carried out in 1990 in order to determine how many of them taught and/or conducted research in the subdiscipline of animal behaviour, i.e., either as ethology or comparative psychology or both,and their future plans. Altogether only 10 psychology and 12 biology/zoology departments responded to the questionaire. In addition, a further five psychology departments were contacted via phone or through personal communication. The survey revealed a somewhat disappointing picture with regard to psychology departments—only three of them taught courses in animal behaviour regularly, five taught only small modules on animal behaviour whereas the rest of the departments neither did nor ever planned to do so in the near future. Most psychology departments were of the opinion that the study of animal behaviour was not important at all and consequently only a few of them had conducted or were still conducting some research in the area. In contrast, the picture was a much more exciting one with regard to biology/zoology departments—all of those which had responded, except for one only, had taught courses on animal behaviour in their curricula and had done so for at least a decade. The biology/zoology departments concerned considered animal behaviour to be a relatively important subdiscipline and the majority of them had also conducted or were still conducting some research in the area. Possible explanations for this discrepancy as well as implications thereof for the future of the study of the subdiscipline in South African universities are discussed.

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