license the inventoriers

Dennis Paulson dpaulson at MAIL.UPS.EDU
Mon Oct 28 11:07:51 CST 1996

>Why should not professionals in any field (taxonomists in this case)
>seek licensing procedures for persons and firms that do the same work,
>but without degrees or appropriate association with appropriate institu-
>Rod Tulloss

I support Rod's proposal strongly.

Ever since I was in college, I've had the idea that the system is
backwards.  Students should learn what they want to learn and not have to
suffer the constant anxiety of exams and grades, but in my ideal system
they would know that they will have to pass some sort of fairly rigorous
exam(s) to be admitted to the career of their choice, with new exams (or
appropriate substitutes) for every career change or advancement.  That way
a person is motivated to learn the information/skills they need to be
accomplished in their field.  It doesn't mean they can't study/learn any
number of other things as they move through their school years or

The present system involves people coming out of an undergraduate college
education with a broad mishmash of course work, much of which is forgotten
as soon as the final exam is over.  In most of our universities, they may
have encountered rather few plant and animal taxa.  For the most part,
unless they have made nature study a strong hobby, they are abominably
prepared for the job they chose as a "biologist" in a consulting firm or
government agency, for example, the focus of our discussion here.  In most
of these jobs, there aren't even apprenticeships; you may be the only
person of your kind in the company/agency.  And this is true in so many

Much as I personally hate the thought of more regulations, I think there
should be *something* in the system that ensures that people are actually
qualified for their jobs, so the rest of society can depend on their
pronouncements and actions as being dependable.  If architects and doctors
and lawyers are examined and licensed, are we to say that the services
provided by experienced and knowledgeable biologists are to be any less
valued?  It certainly seems that way, if you compare salaries and prestige,
but I don't think it should be that way, and perhaps making biologists more
Professional might be a good place to start.

There are now a lot of people with training in biology but without advanced
degrees working out there, also a lot of people with advanced degrees not
working in academia or research, the places an advanced degree gives one
status.  Are these people professionals or not?  If so, perhaps we should
indeed have a way of expressing this.

Dennis Paulson, Director                           phone 206-756-3798
Slater Museum of Natural History                 fax 206-756-3352
University of Puget Sound                       e-mail dpaulson at
Tacoma, WA 98416

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