Evolution is real. The theory of evolution is one of the most impactful concepts of modern science. It is supported by abundant evidence, observations, and testable hypotheses, allowing us to predict outcomes, changes, and impacts. The scientific theory of evolution is central to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s work, forming the basis of our scientists’ research on the natural world. As our climate warms and our planet faces enormous changes, harnessing the power of evolution is our best chance of making the world a livable place for everyone.
What is evolution? Evolution is the process of a population’s gene pool changing over generations as a result of natural selection and other factors. If enough changes build up through time and populations become isolated from each other, new species can emerge. The scientific theory of evolution explains this process and answers the question of how Earth’s biodiversity came to exist.
Why write a statement about evolution? A variety of interests have tried to undermine evolutionary theory and have spread misinformation. At the same time, evolutionary theory has been unethically used to justify deadly practices, such as racism, eugenics and genocide. As science educators, we have a responsibility to teach this fundamental concept that underpins many natural science fields. As an organization rooted in equity, we must work to ensure that biology is not used to support systems of oppression.
To further the Science Museum of Minnesota’s vision of empowering everyone to use science to understand how our world works, we will:
Inspire learning by sharing examples of evolution in action in our daily lives, from managing agriculture to understanding disease-causing microbes. We will continue to develop educational resources, programs, and exhibits that define and explain the different components of the evolutionary process.
Inform policy by working with education systems at many levels to ensure that all learners in Minnesota understand evolutionary theory and can apply it in ways that serve all people. We will advocate against policies that seek to divide and discriminate against groups of humans based on harmful interpretations of evolutionary theory.
Improve lives by creating spaces and programs that support reflection and dialogue about evolution. By building a strong understanding of what evolution is and is not, we will equip people to reject discrimination that claims to be based in scientific fact and to use evolutionary theory to solve problems.
Humanity is now the dominant agent of ecosystem change on Earth. A firm grasp of evolution is vital in anticipating how our planet-altering activities will impact biodiversity and, as a result, our lived experiences. Most importantly, understanding evolution helps us make sense of the world while making our view of life on Earth immeasurably richer.
Glossary of Terms
Biodiversity- the variety of living species of organisms on Earth
Eugenics- the discredited practice of controlled selective breeding of human populations to “improve” the population’s genes, specifically by sterilizing people who were targets of ableism, antisemitism, classism, colonialism, homophobia, and racism.
Gene pool- the set of all genes present in a reproducing population
Genocide- the deliberate killing, displacement, sterilization, or removal from culture of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group
Hypothesis- a proposed explanation for an aspect of the natural world that is made on the basis of limited evidence and then tested for accuracy
Natural selection- the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring
Scientific Theory- an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that has been tested for accuracy and is well-supported by evidence
Species- a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of interbreeding