This is a recent article from Scientific American. I see other institutions doing much the same thing–address the issue right up front.
Very interesting article. It seems to confirm that open dialogue is important. In most institutions (churches especially) evolution discussions are discouraged much like sexual issues that have been pushed into the closet in past decades.
Little was said in the article about specific topics other than having an presentation of viewpoints and open discussion. That usually seems to be best with such emotionally charged subjects, giving space for the individual to form their opinions without coercion.
What? Religion in science class? How dare they!!
In all seriousness, I think that’s a good way to go about it. Rather than just try to trump students’ beliefs, let them air their grievances. Healthy conversation is the only way we can move forward.
Yes, that way you aren’t promoting or denigrating religion in science class, you are merely teaching about religious thought, assuring students that they aren’t expected to change their religious views if they don’t want to. That frees them to learn the material and not block it. Even the free Intro to Genetics and Evolution college course on Coursera starts in this way. It mentions that students don’t have to change their views but will be expected to learn what is taught. And Francis Collins is mentioned as a scientist who is a believing Christian. Discussion boards are provided where students can discuss religion.
Elizabeth Barnes, the author of the original study published in American Science Teacher, has done some great work about the need to address the elephant in the room, as it were. However, there is still a long way to go because a lot of people who made comments about this report on the Scientific American Facebook page were angry that even this small amount of “religion” was included in a science class.
What I found most encouraging about this study was the change in attitude of the non-religous students who changed their minds about the compatibility of science and religion following the module.
True, but remember that militant atheists make lots of noise.
Yes there. I work in an Evolutionary Biology department at a major university and many of my friends are very vocal about the absolute separation of science and religion.
Extra points for the creative title.