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Initiative to Promote Teaching Evolution Across Life Sciences

Citing concern about how evolution is typically taught in high school and college—and the fact that even the study of it remains contentious—a new national initiative seeks to infuse evolutionary science into high school and college curricula as a "fundamental and integrating principle of modern life science."

The effort will be launched at a two-day meeting next week co-hosted by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences.

"Often [evolution] is presented as one discrete topic among many in the biology curriculum, leading to the false impression that it can be isolated or even removed from biology," says an announcement of the event and the broader effort. "A more appropriate and effective way to teach evolution is as a fundamental and integrating principle of modern life science."

The Oct. 25-26 meeting, titled "Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences," will bring together a variety of experts in education science to help develop a strategic plan to incorporate evolution as a central theme in biology teaching across institutions and academic levels.

It comes as the recent NRC framework for developing a set of common standards in science includes a call for teaching about evolutionary principles throughout the K-12 curriculum.

The national meeting next week will focus on a series of issues and questions, including:

• Why 'thinking evolutionarily' is a useful way to teach biology, with a look at how students, faculty, and science benefit;

• What curricular resources are currently available, what additional ones are needed, and who should produce them; and

• How to encourage and facilitate change, including professional development for high school and college faculty, communications strategies, and engaging "diverse communities" in the life sciences.

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