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Although books dealing with natural sciences were taught in the madrasa, the regular teaching of natural sciences in Turkey originated within medical education in the 19th century. Zoology, botany and geology were taught as supplementary courses to students of medicine, veterinary, pharmacy and dentistry. These courses were mainly taught by physicians. In the Darülfünun, established in 1863, zoology, botany and geology were taught in lectures called İlm-i Mevalid (Natural Sciences).

This article aims to give a detailed account of the teaching of natural sciences in the Darülfünun and Istanbul University within the period 1900-1946, including the course schedule, chairs and the teaching staff, and research activities. Based on information collected so far, it is clear that courses on zoology, botany and geology were given in the Darülfünun-ı Şahane (Imperial Darülfünun) prior to the 1933 University Reformation. Their teaching as regular courses started in the Ulum-ı Riyaziye ve Tabiiye Şubesi (Department of Mathematical and Natural Sciences) established in 1900 and carried out later on in the Darülfünun Faculty of Science.

During World War I, German professors of botany, zoology and geology namely Leick, Boris Zarnick and Walter Penck were recruited in the Darülfünun.. Beside contributing to the teaching of natural sciences, these scholars undertook also research and field studies. After the departure of foreign scholars in 1918, research and educational activities were carried on by their Turkish colleagues. Among scholars brought to the Faculty of Science in 1926 from France , there was also a professor of zoology, namely Raymond Hovasse. After the University Reformation in 1933, the staff of the botany, zoology and geology chairs were dismissed and new Turkish and foreign scholars were recruited. In this reorganisation, the administration of botany and zoology chairs were entrusted to foreign scholars (L.Brauner, A. Heilbronn, A. Naville) whereas a Turkish scholar, Hamit Nafiz Pamir, became the head of the geology chair.

Following the Reformation, the chair of botany was divided into two new institutes. The first institute was called Umumi Nebatat Enstitüsü ( Institute of General Botany ) headed by Leo Brauner. The other was the Farmakobotanik ve Genetik Enstitüsü ( Institute of Pharmacobotany and Genetics) directed by Alfred Heilbronn. Professor Andre Naville was appointed the director of the zoology chair. After his death in 1937, he was succeeded by the German professor Kurt Kosswig.

With the 1933 reformation, Ph.D studies started to be conducted for the first time in the Faculty of Science. In the period covered, a total of nineteen Ph.D theses were prepared under the supervision of foreign scholars in natural sciences -eight in botany, six in zoology and five in geology. The majority of students who completed their Ph.D. studies between 1933-46 carried on their academic life in the Faculty of Science and later became members of the teaching staff.

Although there had been a few individual efforts in conducting research in natural sciences during the 19th century Ottoman educational institutions , these efforts did not lead to a research tradition. Research based studies started in the Darülfünun from 1914 on with the field studies conducted on Anatolian fauna and geology. This bias toward research amplified with the new organisation and staff implemented by the 1933 University Reformation.

Son güncelleme: 01.11.2016

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