The three most important objectives of the EvoS curriculum are breadth, depth, and general conceptual development.
Breadth refers to the fact that evolutionary theory provides a single conceptual framework for understanding a vast diversity of subjects. Darwin himself studied everything from earthworms, to barnacles, to orchids, to human emotions, to the nature of morality. It was the theory that he developed, in addition to his personal genius, that enabled him to make sense of so many subjects. We might not be lucky enough to possess Darwin’s personal genius, but all of us can use the theory of evolution to make sense of a diversity of subjects that matter to us professionally, socially, and personally. The integrated curriculum is designed in part to stress this connectedness.
Depth refers to the fact that evolutionary studies can enhance career development in your own area of interest, whatever it may be. To convince yourself of this fact, search Amazon.com for books on the profession that you contemplate for yourself and you will very likely find a number that employ an evolutionary perspective and are generating considerable interest. The integrated curriculum is designed to allow you to explore your particular interest from an evolutionary perspective. Almost any student can benefit professionally from a sophisticated knowledge of evolution, especially those who are planning on graduate education.
General Conceptual Development
General conceptual development refers to the fact that education, at its best, should improve one’s general ability to think in addition to learning specific bodies of knowledge. Research on conceptual development shows that students who enter college often suffer from a number of misconceptions, such that a subject consists of a large number of facts or that all views are equally valid. Few students appreciate the tentative nature of most bodies of knowledge or the cognitive skills that are required to evaluate alternative views in a way that allows the accumulation of knowledge, while respecting the values of a given person or society rather than pretending that they can be ignored.
Most college curricula are not designed to teach general conceptual development and some courses unwittingly retard it. Not only is evolutionary studies exceptionally well suited for teaching general conceptual development, but our integrated curriculum is designed in consultation with leading experts on how to teach general conceptual development in addition to specific bodies of knowledge.
Finally, EvoS is designed to maximize interactions among undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and visiting experts, which we regard as members of a single intellectual community at various stages of development.