Workshop Report/Summary

Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation (2012)

Evolution is the central, unifying theme of biology?yet today, more than a 150 years since Charles Darwin proposed the idea of evolution through natural selection, the topic is still relegated to a handful of chapters in textbooks and a few class sessions in introductory biology courses. In some high school and undergraduate courses, evolution is not covered at all.

In recent years, increasing numbers of research scientists, educators, and education researchers have pointed out the many benefits of teaching evolution throughout the biology curriculum. Understanding evolutionary processes is essential to achieving a full understanding of the variety, relationships, and functioning of living things, and an appreciation of evolutionary principles could enhance and enliven the study of virtually all areas of biology, from embryological development to the processes of disease.

The Board of Life Sciences held a national convocation to explore the many issues associated with teaching evolution across the curriculum. The convocation brought together people from many sectors, including K-12 education, higher education, museums, publishers, government, philanthropy, international educators, and non-profit organizations?groups that rarely communicate, but will need to work collaboratively if evolution is to assume a more prominent role in biology education. The meeting focused on topics such as infusing evolutionary science into introductory college courses and into biology courses at the high school level, developing curricular materials, and the broader issues with learning about the nature, processes, and limits of science, since understanding evolutionary science requires a general appreciation of how science works.

For more information, including videos from the convocation, check out the convocation website here.