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?