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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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Thinking
Evolutionarily

Evolution Education
Across the Life Sciences

Summary of a Convocation

Steve Olson, Rapporteur
Jay B. Labov, Editor

Planning Committee on Thinking Evolutionarily:
Making Biology Education Make Sense

Board on Life Sciences, Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                                 OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS     500 Fifth Street, NW     Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the National Academy of Sciences and grants from the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation, Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, a Research Coordination Network/Undergraduate Biology Education Grant from the National Science Foundation to Oklahoma University, and in-kind support from the Carnegie Institution for Science. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-25689-6

International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-25689-5

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences (2012). Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences. Summary of a Convocation. Steve Olson, Rapporteur. Planning Committee on Thinking Evolutionarily: Making Biology Education Make Sense. Board on Life Sciences, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council, and National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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PLANNING COMMITTEE ON THINKING EVOLUTIONARILY:
MAKING BIOLOGY EDUCATION MAKE SENSE

CYNTHIA M. BEALL* (Chair), Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University

PAUL BEARDSLEY, Department of Biological Sciences, California Polytechnic University, Pomona

IDA CHOW, Society for Developmental Biology

JAMES P. COLLINS, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

IRENE ECKSTRAND, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health

KRISTIN JENKINS,** Education and Outreach, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

NANCY A. MORAN,* Department of Biology, Yale University

GORDON E. UNO, Department of Botany and Microbiology, Oklahoma University

JAY B. LABOV, Senior Advisor for Education and Communication and Study Director

CYNTHIA A. WEI, Christine Mirzayan Policy Fellow, National Academy of Sciences

ORIN E. LUKE, Senior Program Assistant

_________

*Member, National Academy of Sciences.

**Current Affiliation: BioQuest.

Special Consultant to the Organizing Committee.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES

KEITH R. YAMAMOTO (Chair), Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology University of California, San Francisco

BONNIE L. BASSLER, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

VICKI CHANDLER, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

SEAN EDDY, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

MARK D. FITZSIMMONS, MacArthur Fellows Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

DAVID R. FRANZ, Midwest Research Institute

LOUIS J. GROSS, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

RICHARD A. JOHNSON, Arnold & Porter, LLP

CATO T. LAURENCIN, School of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center

ALAN I. LESHNER, American Association for the Advancement of Science

BERNARD LO, Bioethics Program, University of California, San Francisco

ROBERT M. NEREM, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

CAMILLE PARMESAN, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin

MURIEL E. POSTON, Division of Human Resources Development, National Science Foundation

ALISON G. POWER, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University

MARGARET RILEY, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts

BRUCE W. STILLMAN, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

CYNTHIA WOLBERGER, Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

MARY WOOLLEY, Research!America

FRANCES SHARPLES, Director

KATIE BOWMAN, Senior Program Officer

INDIA HOOK-BARNARD, Senior Program Officer

JO HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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JAY LABOV, Senior Advisor for Education and Communication

KEEGAN SAWYER, Program Officer

MARILEE SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Senior Program Officer

AYESHA AHMED, Senior Program Assistant

CARL-GUSTAV ANDERSON, Program Associate

ORIN LUKE, Senior Program Assistant

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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Acknowledgments

This workshop summary is based on discussions at a convocation that was organized by a committee under the aegis of the Board on Life Sciences of the National Research Council (NRC) and the National Academy of Sciences on October 25-26, 2011. We thank our colleagues who served on the planning committee, each of whom brought critical expertise and perspectives to the planning of the convocation. The planning committee members identified speakers and panelists, helped organize and finalize the agenda, and facilitated discussions during the two breakout sessions. Several committee members also served as panelists during the convocation (see Appendix A). Although the committee was neither tasked with nor contributed to the writing of this summary, this publication clearly reflects its diligent efforts along with the excellent presentations by experts, and the insightful comments of the many participants during the convocation.

This convocation would not have been possible without the generous support of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation through a Research Coordination Network/ Undergraduate Biology Education grant to Oklahoma University (Gordon Uno, Principal Investigator). We thank all of them sincerely. We also thank Dr. Toby Horn, Carnegie Institution for Science, for her role in procuring the facilities of the Carnegie Institution for the convocation and in assisting with logistical planning for the event.

This summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals cho-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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sen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published summary as sound as possible and to ensure that the summary meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewers’ comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this summary:

Clarissa Dirks, The Evergreen State College

Adam Fagen, Genetics Society of America

David Jablonski, University of Chicago

Kenneth R. Miller, Brown University

Elvis Nuñez, University of Florida

Paul Strode, Fairview High School, Boulder, CO

David Wise, University of Illinois, Chicago

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dr. Diane Ebert-May, Michigan State University. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution.

We are grateful for the leadership and support provided by Kenneth R. Fulton, executive director of the National Academy of Sciences, and Frances Sharples, director of the NRC’s Board on Life Sciences. We thank Orin Luke, senior program assistant, for his valuable contributions to planning and implementing the logistics for all aspects of the convocation. We also thank Rebecca Fischler, communications officer in the NRC’s Division on Earth and Life Studies, for her critical expert advice and assistance with developing and maintaining the convocation’s website (http://nas-sites.org/thinkingevolutionarily/) and electronic procedures.

We acknowledge the important contributions of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center for organizing and supporting the working committee that envisioned this convocation and the role of the NRC and National Academy of Sciences as the convening bodies for the event (for additional information about this project, see http://nas-sites.org/thinkingevolutionarily/convocation-description/).

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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Finally, we thank all of the participants for taking the time and, for many, the expense to attend this convocation. We are also deeply grateful to the following disciplinary and professional societies for sending representatives to the convocation: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute for Biological Sciences, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Human Genetics, American Society of Plant Biologists, American Society of Primatologists, Animal Behavior Society, Association of American Medical Colleges, Biophysical Society, Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, National Association of Biology Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, Phycological Society of America, Society for Developmental Biology, Society for Freshwater Science, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, and the Society for the Study of Evolution.

Cynthia M. Beall, Ph.D.
Chair, Organizing Committee

  Jay B. Labov, Ph.D.
Study Director and Editor
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13403.
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Evolution is the central unifying theme of biology. Yet today, more than a century and a half after Charles Darwin proposed the idea of evolution through natural selection, the topic is often relegated to a handful of chapters in textbooks and a few class sessions in introductory biology courses, if covered at all. In recent years, a movement has been gaining momentum that is aimed at radically changing this situation.

On October 25-26, 2011, the Board on Life Sciences of the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences held a national convocation in Washington, DC, to explore the many issues associated with teaching evolution across the curriculum. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation summarizes the goals, presentations, and discussions of the convocation. The goals were to articulate issues, showcase resources that are currently available or under development, and begin to develop a strategic plan for engaging all of the sectors represented at the convocation in future work to make evolution a central focus of all courses in the life sciences, and especially into introductory biology courses at the college and high school levels, though participants also discussed learning in earlier grades and life-long learning.

Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation covers the broader issues associated with learning about the nature, processes, and limits of science, since understanding evolutionary science requires a more general appreciation of how science works. This report explains the major themes that recurred throughout the convocation, including the structure and content of curricula, the processes of teaching and learning about evolution, the tensions that can arise in the classroom, and the target audiences for evolution education.

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