Evolution, the University, and the Social Construction of Conflict
How does evolution education play out across a middle-American college campus? In Chap. 6 we back our focus out to the campus environment as a whole. We will meet faculty in other departments for whom evolution (both for and against) is a rallying point by which the politics of evolution education on campus are played out. We will meet the Mason-Dixon University biology faculty and unpack how their own experiences do or do not make for a productive dialectic for evolution. Classroom discussion of evolution is analyzed for its rhetorical politics. In interviews with faculty, pedagogical tensions surrounding the teaching of evolution are explored, with faculty choosing to not mention human evolution in their courses.
Analyzing campus outreach efforts to the community, I discuss the political tensions and rationales at play for Mason-Dixon to hold a “Darwin Day” program for local schools. Within these discussions, faculty describe the competing efforts of a regional Creationist group, Answers in Genesis, successfully getting “equal time” to present their message in public school science classes—likely breaking federal law. Additional tensions are detailed as evolution is contentious in a regional Earth Day celebration, along with controversy prompted by Creationists co-sponsoring joint admission packages to a local zoo. Moving past research based on classroom teacher efficacy regarding evolution, these scenarios illustrate the complexities of evolution education when examined within the general sociopolitical milieu.
KeywordsFaculty Member Human Evolution Science Teacher Science Class Mock Trial
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