Ron Wetherington, Anthropology, standards for teaching evolution still a battle

My Statesman

Originally Posted: September 26, 2016

A state committee has drafted preliminary recommendations that would no longer require Texas public high school biology teachers to teach theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution.

The State Board of Education has tasked a 10-member committee of school district officials and scholars to whittle down the state’s biology curriculum standards, also called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The streamlining comes as teachers have long complained that the amount of material the state requires them to teach in all subjects is too voluminous to cover in a school year.

At its July meeting, a majority of the biology committee took a preliminary vote to remove, among others, four curriculum standards that some members say challenge the theory of evolution.

Skeptics of evolution say the standards in question — out of 58 total biology standards — are meant to spur students’ critical thinking on scientific evidence that evolution can’t readily explain. Evolution proponents say the four standards promote the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

“I don’t advocate for any kind of creationism to be taught in the school. That does not belong in the TEKS. I’m simply concerned about the fair representation of the evidence for evolution,” said Ray Bohlin, one of two committee members who opposed removing the four standards. Bohlin works for Probe Ministries in Plano and holds a doctorate in cell and molecular biology.

Fellow committee member Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University, said he and others voted to remove the standards because they are redundant and irrelevant.

“How can we improve the TEKS by paring it down and giving you more time to teach what you need to teach? For the most part, we were looking at duplications, non sequitur and grammatical problems, and other structural problems in the TEKS that made it difficult to interpret,” Wetherington said.

He said he believes the standards he wants to remove promote creationism and intelligent design, but that wasn’t the primary reason he’s in favor of striking them. READ MORE

Fondren library closed Saturday, September 17th

Fondren Library will be closed this Saturday, September 17th for Game Day. Regular hours will resume Sunday September 18th at Noon. READ MORE 

TODAY 10am-2pm. Student Leadership Initiative hosts Human Rights Program kickoff

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: September 13, 2016

The Student Leadership Initiative (SLI) Board is hosting a kickoff for the Embrey Human Rights Program on Sept. 14. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the flagpole in front of Dallas Hall lawn.

The event aimed to raise awareness for the Human Rights Program and other human rights-oriented groups on campus. The event will also feature a dunk tank, Jimmy John’s, Steel City Pops, music and husky puppies.

“The Student Leadership Initiative is the liaison between the Embrey Human Rights Program and other human rights organizations on campus,” said junior Karly Zrake, a student in the program majoring in Human Rights. The SLI board comprises students from all majors, not just those studying in the human rights field.

This kickoff is the first event this year hosted by SLI.

Started in 2006, the Embrey Human Rights Program defined its mission to “educate students and other members of the global community to understand, promote, and defend human rights as responsible citizens of the world.”

“There is no such thing as a lesser person,” is the program’s motto.

The Embrey Human Rights Program, directed by Dr. Rick Halperin, offers a major and minor in Human Rights and facilitates human rights trips and outreach initiatives around the DFW area.

Zrake notes the major’s interdisciplinary qualities. “It covers courses across so many different curricula,” she said.

The Embrey program hosts four trips annually. The trips are unlike study abroad but are “educational trips,” as Zrake called them. This year, the program will offer a trip to Poland in December, Germany over spring break, Cuba in late May and a U.S. tour to death row facilities in the south in August.

Research grants are awarded to students in the program. The Community Outreach Initiative provides $2,000 to fund a student’s action in the human rights area.

“The program is really like a family and a support system,” said Zrake. READ MORE

SMU climbs to 56 in U.S. News & World Report rankings

SMU News

Originally Posted: September 13, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU rose to its highest ranking among the nation’s universities in the 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, released online today.

Among 220 institutions classified as national universities, SMU ranks 56, up from 61 a year ago.

The new ranking again places SMU in the first tier of institutions in the guide’s “best national universities” category. In Texas, only Rice University ranks higher. SMU and the University of Texas-Austin were tied.  Among private national universities, SMU ranks 39.

SMU’s increase was one of the five largest among the top 100 universities. Since 2008, SMU’s 11-point increase is one of the four largest among schools in the top 60.

For the rankings, U.S. News considers measures of academic quality, such as peer assessment scores and ratings by high school counselors, faculty resources, student selectivity, graduation rate performance, financial resources and alumni giving. SMU ranks 24 among all national universities in alumni giving at 25 percent.

In other ranking categories, SMU ranks 32 as one of the best national universities for veterans.

“It is gratifying for SMU to be recognized for its positive movement among the best national universities,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The ranking is an example of the momentum of the Second Century Campaign and the University’s Centennial Celebration.

“We appreciate external recognition of our progress and believe it’s valid, but we also know that rankings do not portray the whole picture of an institution and its strengths. We encourage parents and students to visit the institutions they are considering for a firsthand look at the academic offerings, the campus environment and the surrounding community to best gauge a university.”

The rankings of 1,374 institutions, including national universities, liberal arts colleges, regional colleges and regional universities, are available now online and on newsstands Sept. 23. Find the “Best Colleges 2017” guidebook in stores Oct. 4. READ MORE

 

Oh, the places Dedman College students will go… (after graduation)!

Dedman College graduate employer list

Clinton makes questionable Utah investment as Trump plays delay game

The following is an excerpt from an SMU News release. For the full release READ MORE.

Dedman College expert Matthew Wilson is ready to field questions on the ever changing presidential race.

CLINTON’S UTAH AMBITIONS A QUIXOTIC ADVENTURE

MATTHEW WILSON:
jmwilson@smu.edu

On reports that Clinton has opened a field office in Utah…

  • “She has an outside chance (of winning Utah), but it still seems like a waste of resources. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Utah is a decisive state. If she’s just romping to victory everywhere, she could win Utah, but it would just be icing on the cake – a superfluous and anomalous result that wouldn’t be sustained (by Democrats) in the future. It’s got everything to do with Trump if she wins there and nothing to do with Clinton.”

On whether Clinton can swing the Mormon vote to the Democratic Party…

  • “Mormons have been strongly Republican for quite some time and Utah is usually not competitive, and has not be for decades. There are no trends in the Mormon electorate to suggest it’s becoming more competitive. The only reason anyone thinks it might be this time is because Trump is uniquely repugnant to Mormons. It’s not a thing where an investment of resources would pay dividends in the future.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. Books published:

  • Politics and Religion in the United States. With Michael Corbett and Julia Corbett-Hemeyer. Routledge Press, 2013.
  • Understanding American Politics. With Stephen Brooks and Douglas L. Koopman. University of Toronto Press, 2013.
  • From Pews to Polling Places: Faith and Politics in the American Religious Mosaic. Georgetown University Press, 2007. Edited volume including authored chapter.

One of the most significant Etruscan discoveries in decades names female goddess Uni

EurekaAlert

Originally Posted: August 24, 2016

Archaeologists translating a very rare inscription on an ancient Etruscan temple stone have discovered the name Uni — an important female goddess.

The discovery indicates that Uni — a divinity of fertility and possibly a mother goddess at this particular place — may have been the titular deity worshipped at the sanctuary of Poggio Colla, a key settlement in Italy for the ancient Etruscan civilization.

The mention is part of a sacred text that is possibly the longest such Etruscan inscription ever discovered on stone, said archaeologist Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the archaeological dig.

Scientists on the research discovered the ancient stone embedded as part of a temple wall at Poggio Colla, a dig where many other Etruscan objects have been found, including a ceramic fragment with the earliest birth scene in European art. That object reinforces the interpretation of a fertility cult at Poggio Colla, Warden said.

Now Etruscan language experts are studying the 500-pound slab — called a stele (STEE-lee) — to translate the text. It’s very rare to identify the god or goddess worshipped at an Etruscan sanctuary.

“The location of its discovery — a place where prestigious offerings were made — and the possible presence in the inscription of the name of Uni, as well as the care of the drafting of the text, which brings to mind the work of a stone carver who faithfully followed a model transmitted by a careful and educated scribe, suggest that the document had a dedicatory character,” said Adriano Maggiani, formerly Professor at the University of Venice and one of the scholars working to decipher the inscription.

“It is also possible that it expresses the laws of the sanctuary — a series of prescriptions related to ceremonies that would have taken place there, perhaps in connection with an altar or some other sacred space,” said Warden, co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project.

Warden said it will be easier to speak with more certainty once the archaeologists are able to completely reconstruct the text, which consists of as many as 120 characters or more. While archaeologists understand how Etruscan grammar works, and know some of its words and alphabet, they expect to discover new words never seen before, particularly since this discovery veers from others in that it’s not a funerary text.

The Mugello Valley archaeologists are announcing discovery of the goddess Uni at an exhibit in Florence on Aug. 27, “Scrittura e culto a Poggio Colla, un santuario etrusco nel Mugello,” and in a forthcoming article in the scholarly journal Etruscan Studies. READ MORE

Welcome to the Class of 2020

SMU News

Originally Posted: August 22, 2016

Following you will find Class of 2020 PhotoMaking the Class of 2020 PhotoOpening Convocation scenesOpening Convocation speechCamp Corral scenes“Discover Dallas” scenes“Discover Dallas” StorifyCorral Kick-OffMove-In video and scenes, and AARO.

SMU Class of 2020 Photo

SMU Class of 2020

Calendar Highlights: Back to school in brief, Fall 2016

Dallas Hall at SMU

Welcome to the 2016-17 academic year! Here are a few Fall 2016 dates to remember:

  • Opening Convocation and Common Reading discussion: Sunday, Aug. 21
  • First day of classes: Monday, Aug. 22
  • General Faculty Meeting: Wednesday, Aug. 24
  • Labor Day: Monday, Sept. 5 (University offices closed)
  • First Faculty Senate Meeting of 2016-17: Wednesday, Sept. 7
  • Family Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Sept. 23-24
  • Fall Break: Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 10-11
  • Homecoming Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5
  • Thanksgiving: Thursday-Friday, Nov. 24-25 (University offices closed, no classes on Wednesday, Nov. 23)
  • Last day of classes: Monday, Dec. 5
  • Reading days: Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 6-7
  • Final exams: Thursday-Wednesday, Dec. 8-14 (no exams scheduled for Sunday)
  • December Commencement Convocation: Saturday, Dec. 17 (official close of term and date for conferral of degrees)
  • Christmas/Winter Break: Friday, Dec. 23, 2016-Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 (University offices closed)

READ MORE