University of Dayton Chautauqua Course


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Evolution Education: A Delicate Balance Among Science, Controversy and Pedagogy

Chautauqua Course DAY-9


Evolution Education: A Delicate Balance Between Science, Controversy and Pedagogy

GREGORY A. FORBES, Evolution Education Institute

Late May, 2015 in Dayton, OH                                                                                Apply: DAY

          Despite a long history of debate, legal battles and court decisions supporting the teaching of evolutionary science, there remains strong social pressure to replace the instruction of evolution with nonscientific ideologies.   As a result, many teachers and professors are hesitant or afraid to teach evolution and therefore many students are never exposed to the topic of evolution.  As these students will be the teachers of tomorrow, the problem is passed on to the next generation.  Without a significant change in the way schools and teachers deal with the issue of scientific evolution, there may be little chance that this situation will be resolved.

          This course will introduce educators to the socio-political factors that account for the continuation of this debate as well as to provide an overview of contemporary evolutionary theory and approaches to teaching this very important body of science.  Workshop sessions include:  1) Why Teach  Evolution? - An assessment of the value of evolution in a comprehensive science education  2) Evolution; What's All the Fuss After 3˝ Billion Years? - An examination of the socio-political basis of the debate  3) Evolution Primer - An overview of the unifying themes and concepts of evolutionary theory  4) Evidence of Evolution- A review of the empirical evidence of past and contemporary evolution  5) Responses to Anti-Evolutionist's Claims - A review of scientific and philosophical responses to statements and questions regarding the validity of evolution and the “fairness” of teaching evolution  6) Intelligent Design; Grasping for Scientific Straws  7) Educator's Resources for Teaching Evolution - A hands-on examination of resources, materials and strategies for teaching evolution.

          Upon completion of this course, participants will have a strong understanding of the background of this continuing debate as well as a working knowledge of the foundations of contemporary evolutionary theory along with the ability to respond to questions from students, campus administration and the community regarding evolution theory and the necessity of its inclusion in a comprehensive science education.  Pedagogical techniques introduced will allow workshop participants to weave evolutionary theory as a thread throughout their science courses.   The relative emphasis of each of these topics within the course may be adjusted to best suit the interests of the participants.

For college teachers of: all disciplines.  Prerequisites: none.



Tentative Costs for 2015

Application fee: $100

Course fee: $195 [Due in April 2015]

Optional on-site lodging: approximately $58 per person per night in a single


Dr. Forbes is the former Education Director and co-founder of the Michigan Scientific Evolution Education Initiative, a federally-funded initiative to provide science educators with the content, pedagogy and support system to effectively teach scientific evolution.  He is also the Executive Director of the Evolution Education Institute which takes the Michigan model to a national audience.  He serves as the Evolution Education Specialist to the Michigan Science Teachers Association and is a co-founder and Board member of the Michigan Citizens for Science.   He is former Director of the Science Education Center at Grand Rapids Community College where he teaches courses in zoology and human anatomy and physiology.   Dr. Forbes also serves on the Editorial Board of Skeptic Magazine and has been a keynote and featured speaker on evolution and evolution pedagogy at many dozens of scientific, educational, in-service and religious conferences and meetings. He is an evolutionary zooecologist with interests in the evolution of feeding ecology of vertebrates with an emphasis upon the feeding ecology of sea turtles in tropical reef systems.   In 2004 Dr. Forbes was named the Michigan College & University Science Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Science Teachers Association and in 2005 he was selected as the Michigan Civil Libertarian of the Year for his legislative work in  protecting science education and in 2006 Dr. Forbes was awarded the Freethought Association’s highest award for his legislative and academic efforts to protect the integrity of evolution education.



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University of Dayton Chautauqua Course