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Engagement Opportunity: Global Online EvoS, starting April 25

EvoS (for Evolutionary Studies) is a way of teaching evolution that extends to all human-related subjects in addition to the biological world. Indeed, EvoS goes even further by including evolutionary algorithms on computers.

On nearly every college campus, this way of teaching evolution is almost entirely absent. As far as most students are concerned, evolution is still a biology topic. Faculty who study human-related topics from an evolutionary perspective are in a small minority within their respective departments. And hardly anyone is using cultural evolutionary theory to a accomplish positive change in the real world.

I helped to establish the first EvoS program at Binghamton University in 2003, which grew into a consortium of programs with funding from the National Science Foundation. Here is the logo of the original EvoS program.

Two of my books, Evolution for Everyone (2007) and The Neighborhood Project (2011), chronicle this journey. A milestone edited volume titled Darwin’s Roadmap to the Curriculum: Evolutionary Studies in Higher Education, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

EvoS-Binghamton and several other EvoS programs are still going strong. The one constant is student satisfaction. Students love learning about evolution as a theory that can make sense of e-ver-y-thing, as I put it in my novel Atlas Hugged, which has a fictional EvoS program.  Many regard it as their best intellectual experience at college. The earlier they encounter it in their academic careers (optimally as freshmen), the more it guides their personal and professional futures.

Yet, any trans-disciplinary program is difficult to start and maintain at a college or university, no matter how well it succeeds at its mission. The silos of the traditional academic disciplines are highly resistant to change. The authoritarian structure of academic life requires currying the favor of every new Dean, Provost and President. And trans-disciplinary programs are often the first to go during tight budget years. For these and other reasons, EvoS programs did not “go viral” across college campuses and it is somewhat of a miracle that the first ones continue to survive.

There must be a better way. That’s why I and others are exploring the formation of a Global Online EvoS Program that can be joined by anyone who wishes to take part, on or off college campuses. Prosocial World, the nonprofit organization that I helped to form in 2020, can serve as the program’s hub.

In my opinion, nearly everything that takes place on a college campus can take place online at a small fraction of the cost and vastly greater accessibility. Online offerings can contribute positively to campus offerings rather than replacing them.

A 12-week planning “sprint” is scheduled to begin on April 25. If you would like to join the effort at its inception, we are looking for the following categories of people.

  • Faculty at universities and colleges, including community colleges.
  • Undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students.
  • People who are not associated with a college or university but still want to participate in the rich intellectual life of an EvoS program.

In other words, just about anyone with a serious interest in learning an evolutionary worldview and putting it into action!

Please email hello@prosocial.world if you wish to become engaged. This is one of several projects incubated within the Prosocial Commons, which I have described in a previous post. Joining the Prosocial Commons gains access to other projects in addition to this one.