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David Sloan Wilson at Binghamton University

Bringing Darwin’s theory to everyday life

David Sloan Wilson sees evolution as a useful lens through which to consider topics as diverse as urban planning and neuroscience. That’s why he established the interdisciplinary Evolutionary Studies program at Binghamton.

It’s also what motivated Wilson to write Evolution for Everyone, a 2007 book that brought the ideas of evolutionary theory to a general audience.

“Evolution is usually taught strictly as a biological subject," said Wilson, distinguished professor of biological sciences. "But it is equally relevant to human affairs, including areas as diverse as religion, economics and literature."

A former Guggenheim fellow, Wilson joined Binghamton University’s faculty in 1988. He and his students have since brought an evolutionary perspective to studies of laughter, Binghamton neighborhoods, altruism and selfishness.

A new National Science Foundation grant will allow the EvoS program to serve as a model for a national consortium that will link institutions ranging from major research universities to community colleges in a partnership of programs. The two-year, $300,000 NSF grant is titled “Expanding Evolutionary Studies in American Higher Education.”

The consortium will offer students a range of courses that can be taken in parallel with their traditional majors. Taught as a set of unifying principles that cut across subject areas, course topics range from the composition of DNA to the nature of sexual attraction in humans and other species.

“In the future, evolution will be regarded as essential for understanding humanity in addition to life as a whole,” Wilson said. “The EvoS consortium will help accomplish the transition sooner rather than later.”

Learn more about the EvoS Program and David Sloan Wilson.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08