The Chronicle of Higher Education reported earlier this week that the U.S. Department of Education neglected to include “Evolutionary Biology” in it’s list of eligible majors for the new Smart Grant program (the NYTimes and New Scientist also report on this, as does the NCSE). This drew extra attention because the omission left a blank space where the option had been removed. Blank spaces were also created when they eliminated the “Exercise Physiology” and “Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology” majors from the list. This leads one to believe the Department of Education encourages fat and sweaty college kids as much as it discourages evolutionary biology.
The removal of the Evolutionary Biology option does not mean that evolution has been expunged from the list of majors entirely; The “Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology” parent category is still there, along with all of the majors within, except for Evolutionary Biology.
Does this mean that the US government is on a crusade against evolution — not allowing undergrads who study evolution to get federal money? Keep in mind what Dobzhansky wrote:
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
As long as there are biology options (ecology, population biology, systematics, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, etc) evolution will be prominent. By removing the Evolutionary Biology major, it’s as if the Department of Education is saying that’s it’s ridiculous to offer an “evolution” option when all of biology is evolution. Of course, that may just be wishful thinking on my part.