The mission of EvoS is to advance the study of evolution in all its manifestations, including all aspects of humanity in addition to the biological sciences.
Many organizations and websites promote the study of evolution, but EvoS is unique in two respects:
- EvoS is based on the realization that evolutionary theory will probably never be generally accepted–no matter how well supported by facts–unless its consequences for human affairs are fully addressed. Once evolution is seen as unthreatening, explanatory, and useful for solving life’s problems, then it becomes not just acceptable but irresistable to the average person (see the tutorial for more).
- EvoS makes a connection between evolutionary theory and the unification of knowledge, which has always been the goal of a liberal arts education and contemporary efforts to integrate across disciplines. The same kind of unification that took place in the biological sciences during the 20th century is now taking places for the human behavioral sciences and humanities – but is not yet reflected in the structure of higher education (PDF). EvoS is the first program to diagnose this problem and comprehensively provide a solution at a campus-wide scale.
If these claims seem too grandiose, then consider two of the major research programs that are part of EvoS, in addition to its educational programs. The first establishes Evolutionary Religious Studies as a new field of scientific inquiry, based on exactly the same explanatory framework used in the biological sciences. The second uses evolutionary theory as a framework for community based research to help solve the problems facing our own community of Binghamton, New York.
The mission of EvoS is perhaps best illustrated by the campus-wide EvoS Seminar Series, which brings distinguished speakers to campus at approximately two-week intervals. A sample of EvoS speakers and subjects includes Jonathan Haidt (moral psychology), Andrew Clark (Drosophila genetics), Jeffrey Carpenter (economics), Janice Moore (disease), Mark Van Vugt (leadership), Gregory Velicer (microbial evolution), Peter Turchin (human history), Irene Pepperberg (animal cognition), Shinobu Kitayama (cultural evolution), Bert Holldobler (social insects), Chris Guzellian (law), and Jaak Panksepp (neuroscience). These seminars are not watered down for a general audience, but are given at much the same level as departmental seminars. Yet, they are attended and enjoyed by a single audience of undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty from all departments. The reason that this is possible is because the speakers and audience alike are using evolutionary theory as a common language that can be spoken across disciplines.
We regard EvoS as a model for the development of similar programs and provide a section for faculty at other colleges and universities who wish to start their own version of EvoS. We look forward to working with partners to create an international consortium of campus-wide evolutionary studies programs.