International Evolution conference held in Norman
Scientist preaches evolution education's importance
Science education needs to begin at an early age, an award-winning scientist told audiences at an international conference Saturday in Norman.
Kenneth Miller, biology professor at Brown University, spoke at the Evolution International Conference at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Norman.
Miller was an expert witness in the landmark 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board trial, which was the first lawsuit about teaching intelligent design in public schools. Miller's lecture — "so simple a beginning-why Evolution matters in America today" — urged audiences to get involved and become advocates for more effective science education.
“We have to break down the walls that people try to build between themselves and science," Miller said. "We have to get them to see science as an ordinary activity,”
Miller’s goal is to make science more of a part of popular culture than it is today, and is in favor of a major reconstruction of the education system.
By reserving science for the higher grades — and thereby implying that it’s hard — we turn an awful lot of people off from it,” Miller said.
The Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists meet every year for the evolution conference, said Rich Broughton, OU zoology professor.
Miller was one of the more than 800 speakers scheduled to teach sessions about a range of topics including behavior and social evolution, conservation and diversity and co-evolution and adaption. There are 1,100 biologists registered for the conference, Broughton said.
The evolution conference began with a reception at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History and will run through Tuesday.
“Evolution is the unifying principle in all of the life sciences," Miller said. "We should never forget that, and we should never cease to have the twinkle in our eyes when we tell other people about it,”