Eugenie Scott, Brandon Haught, Bertha Vazquez in Orlando this month

I’m reproducing here an edited notice that the National Center for Science Education sent out recently about a central Florida event coming up:

NCSE’s founding executive director Eugenie C. Scott will be speaking on “Race, Science, and Society” at 4:30 p.m. on October 21, at the FREEFLO Freethought Florida Conference, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Orlando Airport, 5555 Hazeltine National Drive in Orlando.

A description of her talk: “The concept of race in biology or anthropology refers to groups of populations in a geographic region that share some characteristics. As such, races, as open genetic systems, are neither permanent, stable, pure, nor are they discrete units. The concept of race to most Americans, however, includes most of this list, and thus has no scientific foundation. Yet socially, race is extraordinarily important in American society, and misunderstanding biology and genetics can have serious consequences for our society. How should we approach this subject to both reflect science as well as our social needs?”

Among the other speakers at the conference will be high school science teacher, author, and Florida Citizens for Science communications director Brandon Haught, speaking on “Evolution and Climate Change and Schools, Oh My!” at 3:05 p.m. on October 21.

A description of his talk: “Attempts to influence science education, especially lessons on evolution, have been ongoing since the 1920s here in Florida. Amazingly, the fight rages on even today. Two new state laws are the latest salvo in this never-ending battle. One law changes the way textbooks and instructional materials can be reviewed and challenged by citizens. The other law allows students and all school personnel to express religious viewpoints free from discrimination. Proponents of these laws have gone on the record to boldly state that they will both be used to attack the teaching of evolution and climate change at the local school board level. Additionally, the Florida Department of Education started the process of reviewing and approving new science textbooks that will be used in classrooms for several years to come. This talk will focus on the origins of the new laws, their potential impact, and what concerned citizens can do to defend quality science education here in the Sunshine State.”

Also speaking is Bertha Vazquez, a science teacher in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and director of the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, which holds workshops around the nation for middle-school teachers. She will be speaking on “What Is It Like to Teach Evolution in the United States?” at 3:35 p.m. on October 21.

Conference registration starts at $120 ($45 for students). For further details, visit: http://www.freeflo.org/

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