Friday 5 March 2021
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Campbell Biology then and now: Why content still counts


Campbell Biology has resonated with students and instructors for nearly three decades. Although the field of biology is ever-changing, the foundation of science education continues to rest with mastery of the fundamental principles of biology.


 Students are changing, technology is changing, and scientists still can’t agree on how to classify Neanderthals, but core content is still at the crux of success in learning biology. At Pearson, we understand that content delivery methods and pedagogy need to advance but that the equilibrium of Campbell Biology’s original content has been and will continue to be critical to student success.

Before the first edition of Campbell Biology was ever written, Neil Campbell applied for a teaching position at Cornell University. There were several eager candidates and the final interview involved lecturing to a class of Cornell’s Honors Biology students. While other candidates lectured on the “hot topics” of the seventies, Neil chose to lecture on an essential but less glamorous theme — the properties of water. He was so clear, compelling, and thoughtful about the subject that he was granted the teaching position where Pearson’s editorial team would later discover him.

Because of Neil’s belief in the significance of the derivative content, water has persisted as a major hallmark of Campbell Biology. Now in its eleventh edition, it is the only Majors Biology textbook to maintain a dedicated chapter to water (Chapter 3). Because of this, students who learn from Campbell Biology have superior understanding of the molecule that supports all life and are better prepared for the learning that follows.

While we’ve made many necessary additions and edits to the text, Neil’s vision and focus on providing the foremost comprehensible content for students endures.

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