On the road to specialization: curricula in the natural sciences at the physico-mathematical departments of the Russian Empire’s universities


During the nineteenth century, the predominant views on the goals and functions of university education in Russia shifted towards an increased emphasis on specialization. The process started with the approval of a new University statute in 1804 that established at each university a physico-mathematical department for instruction in the natural sciences. Several attempts towards further specialization of the curriculum took place during the 1820s and 1840s, but the final separation of the department into two autonomous divisions – for natural sciences and for mathematical sciences – took place in the 1860s in the course of a much broader, general reform of universities. Various reform proposals were widely debated in Russian society, which also divided on the question of further specialization of the scientific curriculum. The most active opponents came from Moscow University, whereas St. Petersburg University, with support from many provincial schools, argued in favor of the proposal. Even after the formal approval of the division by the new university statute, insufficient student enrollments often created difficulties for disciplinary specialization at smaller universities. Yet by the early twentieth century, the development of science made the trend irreversible: all existing universities established special sections for various branches of science. At Moscow University, the Division for Natural Sciences offered specialization in twelve separate disciplines, including the then relatively uncommon
sciences: anthropology, soil science, and agricultural chemistry.

 
 

Recommended bibliographic description

, On the road to specialization: curricula in the natural sciences at the physico-mathematical departments of the Russian Empire’s universities, Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki [Studies in History of Science and Technology], , p.  732-757

     
    © Studies in the History of Science and Technology: Quarterly scientific journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2015)
    ISSN 0205-9606. Индекс 70143