Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


WEBB, George E., History, Tennessee Tech University, History Department Box 5064, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN 38505-0001,

Among the goals often included in state science frameworks is providing students with an understanding of how scientific ideas develop over time. The teaching of evolution in the public schools has recently been singled out for special emphasis on this front, as concern over the “controversy” surrounding such teaching has led to demands for the inclusion of non-evolutionary explanations in the science curriculum. An historical overview of the development of evolutionary concepts during the 19th and 20th centuries provides valuable information for use in the classroom setting. Evolutionary explanations were modified in numerous ways, as new data and perspectives were integrated into the theory. Details of these changes illustrate not only that evolutionary concepts have long been “works in progress,” taking advantage of new discoveries in many fields, but also that evolutionary theory is far from the monolithic and intellectually rigid structure its critics describe. An examination of the historical development of the concept of evolution thus provides a valuable case study of science as a way of knowing and as a creative intellectual exercise.