Detailed information about the course

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Title

Understanding Evolution

Dates

Sept 23, Oct 7 & Oct 21

Lang EN Workshop language is English
Responsable de l'activité

Alicia Sanchez-Mazas

Organizer(s)

Prof. Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, University of Geneva

Speakers

Dr. Kostas Kampourakis

Description

Evolutionary theory is one of the most debated scientific theories, which has often been criticised on non-scientific grounds. Whereas the evidential basis for evolution is solid, and whereas evolutionary theory is one of the most successful scientific theories, its public understanding and acceptance are in many cases low. All this is due to conceptual obstacles that make evolutionary theory seem counter-intuitive and emotional obstacles that make the theory difficult to accept. Another issue is how people misunderstand the nature of scientific theories, and how science is done. In this course, we will explore all these issues in detail. We begin by a careful consideration of polls about the public acceptance of evolution in order to show that there is more to that than a conflict between science and religion. Then we explore the relation between evolutionary theory and religion, in order to show that they are not necessarily incompatible, as the conflict story suggests. Most importantly, we look at human intuitive thinking about the existence of plan and purpose in nature, and how this is the most important issue to address in science education and communication. Finally, we explore representations of the nature of science, and the expectations that one is reasonable to have from the scientific endeavor. The course concludes with presentation and discussion of essays written by the course participants that would aim to address one or more of the issues discussed in the course, and contribute to a better public understanding of evolution.

 

At the end of this course the students should be able to:

  • Understand the societal issues related to the public acceptance of evolution.
  • Analyze polls on the public acceptance of evolution and interpret their findings.
  • Address the concerns that non-experts have when it comes to evolution, especially human evolution.
  • Argue about the validity and the credibility of evolutionary theory to religious people, while addressing their emotional obstacles and concerns.
  • Explain evolutionary theory to non-experts, while considering the conceptual obstacles they have to overcome in order to understand it.
  • Create a short essay that is intended to help non-experts understand a specific aspect of or topic related to evolutionary theory.
  • Evaluate the short essays of other participants in terms of comprehensiveness and comprehensibility.
Program

 

DATE

 

TOPIC

PROGRAM

Sep 23 2022

SESSION 1a

10:00-11:15

Public acceptance of evolution (analysis of polls on the public acceptance of evolution and interpretation of their findings)

Theory (interactive lecture)

SESSION 1b

11:30-13:00

Work in groups & presentation

 

SESSION 2a

14:00-15:15

Religious resistance to accepting evolution (analysis of the complex relation between evolutionary theory and religion)

Theory (interactive lecture)

SESSION 2b

15:30-17:00

Work in groups & presentation

 

Oct 7 2022

SESSION 3a

10:00-11:15

Conceptual obstacles to understanding evolution (analysis of the ways of thinking that make the evolution seem counter-intuitive)

Theory (interactive lecture)

SESSION 3b

11:30-13:00

Work in groups & presentation

 

SESSION 4a

14:00-15:15

Evolutionary theory and the nature of science (analysis of the broader issues that result in resistance to evolutionary theory)

Theory (interactive lecture)

SESSION 4b

15:30-17:00

Work in groups & presentation

 

Oct 21 2022

SESSION 5

10:00-13:00

Explaining evolution to non-experts

(production of a short essay intended for a broad audience)

Presentation and discussion of short essays

 

 

Location

University of Geneva

Map

Map

Evaluation

No exam. Attendance only. Formative assessment: activity & presentation in each session + homework to upload on moodle; summative assessment: students write a short outreach article on a relevant topic


All sessions must be attended to obtain the certificate of attendance.

Information

When?

  • Sept 23
  • Oct 7
  • Oct 21

 

Where?

University of Geneva, Science II
Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30
1205 Geneva

Expenses

Travel:

PhD students of the CUSO biology programmes are eligible for the reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train (half-fare card, 2nd class). Claims can be done online via MyCUSO when the activity is over.

 

Fees:

CUSO participants: Free
Other participants: please contact the programme coordinator at ecologie-evolution(at)cuso.ch

Registration

Register via MyCUSO ! registration [CLOSED FOR NOW]
Deadline for registration: 07.09.2021
Priority is given to PhD students of the DPEE

In case of cancellations before the deadline (07.09.2022): free
Late cancellations or no-show: 50 CHF administrative fee

Other participants: please contact the program coordinator at ecologie-evolution(at)cuso.ch

Places

19

Deadline for registration
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