Did Education Department Omit Evolutionary Biology?

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) reports that evolutionary biology is absent from a list of majors eligible for SMART Grants from the Department of Education under the Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent program. The omission is conspicuous because evolutionary biology is the only field classified by the Department under "Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology" that is not listed.

Officials from the Department of Education who could comment on the matter were not available, but a spokeswoman said she suspected that the absence of evolutionary biology was a "clerical consolidation of some kind," and that evolution might fall under other topics.

Indeed, the word "evolution" is not entirely absent from the registry of eligible majors. It is still listed as a subtopic under other fields eligible for Smart grants. For instance, paleontology and genetics, both of which draw on evolutionary theories, list "evolution" as a potential area of focus for students in those subjects. There is also an "other" category, under which studies of evolution might fall.

Still, the absence is conspicuous: the only major with evolution in its title was one of only three among the physical sciences that appears to have been deleted from the list. For unknown reasons, "behavioral sciences" and "exercise psychology" are also absent.

Of course this might have been a clerical error. It also might have been some junior functionary's bright idea. (After all, this sort of thing has happened before.)

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Evolutionary Biology Is Back:
  2. More on Evolutionary Biology Omission:
  3. Did Education Department Omit Evolutionary Biology?
Scott W. Somerville (mail) (www):
Would we permit an "Intelligent Design" major?

"Intelligent Design" may fit the "Mathematics" or "Philosophy of Science" departments better than it does any "Science" field, since Science has been defined to exclude any possibility of super-natural causes.

Perhaps we should offer "Non-Darwinian Sciences" like we do "Non-Euclidean Geometries."
8.22.2006 2:52pm
MDJD2B (mail):
Perhaps someone can correct me, but I don't know that there is a specific field of "evolutionary biology" distinct from systematics (taxonomy of species) and other fieslds of biology that rely directly on the evolutionary hypothesis. These fields compare morphology, similarity of nucleic acids and chemicals and other traits of different species.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's a 'gotcha' here.
8.22.2006 3:06pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):

Evolutionary Biology is specifically listed as a field by the Department of Education. It is one of ten fields identified in the area of "Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology." Of the ten, it is the only one that is not listed as being eligible for SMART Grants.

8.22.2006 3:10pm
I'm glad to see Mr. Deutsch landed on his feet after that little resume snafu.
8.22.2006 4:44pm
MnZ (mail):
I would find the omission of behavioral sciences more of interest than evolutionary biology.

I have heard many times from biologists that the study of biology is the study of evolution.
8.22.2006 5:18pm
Mr. Somerville, note that Non-Euclidean Geometries are a BETTER description of the real world than Euclidean ones, so the analogy with non-Darwinian sciences is inapt.
8.22.2006 5:35pm
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
Of course it's a "clerical error". Asking wikipedia at yields "Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion."

So was the error related to a clerk, or a cleric? The world may never know.
8.22.2006 5:53pm
Twill00 (mail):
Please re-read the quote. They said "clerical consolidation", not "clerical error." No error was admitted.
8.23.2006 8:38am
My mother forwarded me the article this morning, too. According the summary she sent, Food Science and Food Technology were two other majors that were excluded. I don't know what connection that has with Intelligent Design, but it struck close to home.
8.24.2006 11:31pm