August 22, 2006

The Kommisar Evolutionary Biologist Vanishes

Alternative title: No Scholarship for You, Godless Liberal!

Like a gap in the fossil record, evolutionary biology is missing from a list of majors that the U.S. Department of Education has deemed eligible for a new federal grant program designed to reward students majoring in engineering, mathematics, science, or certain foreign languages.

That absence apparently indicates that students in the evolutionary sciences do not qualify for the grants, and some observers are wondering whether the omission was deliberate.

The question arises at a time when evolution has become a political hot potato at all levels of education. While the theory of evolution has overwhelming support from scientists, some conservative Christian groups argue for alternative explanations of the origins of life, including "intelligent design," which holds that an intelligent agent guided the creation of life.

Even President Bush has weighed in, advocating teaching "both sides of the debate."

The awards in question -- known as Smart Grants, for the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent program -- were created by Congress this year, with strong support from the president. The grants are worth up to $4,000 and are awarded in addition to Pell grants.

Recipients must be college juniors or seniors enrolled in one of the technical fields of study that the Department of Education has deemed eligible for funds. Many different topics, as varied as astronomy and Arabic, qualify.

But evolutionary biology is absent.

Who says there's never anything interesting in the Chronicle?

Hat tip to Balloon Juice. Also at Pharyngula.

Posted by binky at August 22, 2006 08:59 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Science | You Can't Make This Stuff Up


astronomy but not evolutionary biology!? how long til astrology makes the list? and how long til astronomy is removed in favor of some arcane earth-centric account?

really, that whole big bang thing, it's just a theory!

Posted by: moon at August 23, 2006 01:30 PM | PERMALINK
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