71 minutes | Apr 26th 2020

Finding Purpose in Evolution Education

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Evolution education is often considered solely the domain of the biology classroom, with evolutionary explanations centered largely on genetic change over generations. In this TVOL Podcast, David Sloan Wilson talks with education researchers Susan Hanisch and Dustin Eirdosh about emerging approaches in evolution education that challenge this view and embrace an interdisciplinary conceptualization of evolutionary change more suitable to understanding the human condition. By drawing on perspectives in the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, Cultural Evolution Science, and Contextual Behavioral Science, Hanisch and Eirdosh have advanced a collection of teaching tools and materials that can be used across subject areas in general education to help students understand the evolutionary change dynamics within our species, our communities, and ourselves. Discussing core conceptual challenges in current gene-centric evolution education provides a window into the opportunities created by focusing the human traits at the center of our everyday experience. 

Bios

Susan Hanisch and Dustin Eirdosh are the co-founders of the non-profit organization Global ESD (www.GlobalESD.org) and education researchers in the Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Dustin and Susi work across the disciplines of education and human sciences to advance interdisciplinary teaching materials and teacher development supports to understand global sustainability issues through the lens of evolution and human behavior. 

EEO Article:

Can the science of Prosocial be a part of evolution education?

Hanisch & Eirdosh Preprints:

Conceptual clarification of evolution as an interdisciplinary science

Educational potential of teaching evolution as an interdisciplinary science

Causal mapping as a teaching tool for reflecting on causation in human evolution

Other articles mentioned in the Podcast:

Regardless of students' belief systems (creationist, theistic, non-theistic) students tend to view evolution has having negative personal and social implications.  Brem, S. K., Ranney, M., & Schindel, J. (2003). Perceived consequences of evolution: College students perceive negative personal and social impact in evolutionary theory.Science Education,87(2), 181-206.

A biology teacher encourages students to "boo" other students for any reference to "need" in evolutionary explanations as opposed to helping students resolve the role of behavioral responses to need in evolutionary processes (see Hanisch & Eirdosh preprint: Causal mapping as a teaching tool for reflecting on causation in human evolution) Bravo, P., & Cofré, H. (2016). Developing biology teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge through learning study: the case of teaching human evolution. International Journal of Science Education,38(16), 2500-2527.

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