Panel 2: Hot Issues in Science Education: Abstracts

Prof. Mustafa Yavuz, History of Science, Istanbul Medeniyet University, Istanbul: An Evaluation of Studies on Teaching Evolution Theory among High Schools and Universities in Turkey

In this talk, I put forth the findings of a study of the perception of modern science by high school and university students as well as teachers and pre-teachers in Turkey, based on their acceptance and rejection of Evolution Theory. In the first phase of the study, works of several scholars have been evaluated, focusing on their methodology, target groups and their findings. One conclusion is that the perception of modern science (using Evolution Theory as a case study) varies among three identifiable groups: the acceptors, the deniers and the hesitant (sceptics). The cultural background, depth of religious belief, and types of occupation are major elements that affect the understanding and perception of science among the Turkish population.


Ms. Fateme Savadi, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University: The Development of Modern Science Teaching in Iran

Modern Education in Iran began with the founding of Dār al-Funūn (Polytechnic College) in Tehran in 1851. Since the curriculum of this college included military and technical subjects, its establishment marks the beginning of modern science teaching in Iran. In this talk, after providing a brief account of the course of the development of modern educational institutes in Iran, I present a general description of the status of science teaching in contemporary Iran.


Dr. Abdul Matteen Rafiqi, Department of Biology, McGill University: Challenges of Reconciling Islam and Evolution

There is a widespread misunderstanding and resistance to evolutionary biology among Muslims. We often avoid or reject the study of evolution at various levels. As a student and teacher of evolution for the last 13 years and a practicing Muslim, I will discuss some of the apparent conflicts between Islam and Evolution and my personal attempt towards reconciliation.


Prof. Ehab Abouheif, MCIS/Department of Biology, McGill University: Why is it Important for Muslims to Embrace Evolution?

What does evolution actually mean and why should Muslims care? I will argue that there is a widespread misunderstanding of the concept of evolution, what I call the “Curse of the Scalae Naturae.” This misunderstanding is at the very root of difficulties in reconciling Islam with evolution. If we don’t clarify this misunderstanding and end up rejecting evolution, the consequences for society will be dramatic. Evolutionary biology is important for medicine, agriculture, and biodiversity conservation, and misunderstandings about evolution have led to millions of lives being lost.