Rebecca M Price
Explores the principles of evolution by examining the fossil record, focusing on how past events shaped today's biodiversity. Engages with contemporary controversies regarding scientific literacy.
We examine the principles of evolution by studying the fossil record, focusing on how past events shaped today’s biodiversity. We will start with the formation of the Earth, covering bacteria, algae, land plants, marine and terrestrial invertebrates and vertebrates, and conclude with today’s environmental changes. Much of our learning is hands-on through lab exercises that employ fossil specimens and computer tutorials. We also divide into teams that develop case studies to explore how different aspects of the fossil record relate to popular culture. My goal is to replace a number of the current readings with these case studies in future iterations of the course—so your work will become the vehicle through which future UWB students learn about the History of Life.
We also explore the unfortunate controversy that surrounds evolution in the U.S.A. By applying scientific tests to "intelligent design" we see that the arguments are creationist and stem from faith not logic. We work extensively with Judge John E. Jones's 2005 well-reasoned decision to reject intelligent design in the Dover Area School District of Pennsylvania.
Student learning goals
Summarize the history of life on Earth.
Understand how intelligent design and other forms of creationism threaten chemistry, geology, geography, and astronomy in addition to biology.
Appreciate that understanding the history of life fosters a deeper understanding for every-day experiences, like cooking, talking to neighbors about evolution, thinking about biodiversity.
Be comfortable presenting data and interpreting graphs.
Formulate and evaluate scientific hypotheses.
Read, interpret, and evaluate primary scientific literature.
General method of instruction
Lecture, labs, writing
ready to take 300-level courses
Class assignments and grading
Labs Essays Case Study (group project) Talking to your neighbor (written dialog) Participation, Surveys, Miscellaneous Homework