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Evolution: A Course for Educators (Coursera)

How are all of the species living on Earth today related? How does understanding evolutionary science contribute to our well-being? In this course, participants will learn about evolutionary relationships, population genetics, and natural and artificial selection. Participants will explore evolutionary science and learn how to integrate it into their classrooms.



Course Introduction

Introduction and Darwin’s First Great Idea – The Tree of Life

The first module of the course introduces Charles Darwin’s revolutionary concept of a “tree of life” depicting the evolution of all life from a common ancestor; how evolutionary trees depict relationships among organisms; and how new species are formed. You will explore resources for discovering and addressing student misconceptions about evolution.

Graded: Module Two Quiz


Darwin’s Second Great Idea – Adaptation via Natural Selection

You will learn about Darwin’s second breakthrough: that adaptation via natural selection is the basic mechanism of evolution. You’ll go behind the scenes with Dr. Cracraft to see how evolutionary biologists use the Museum’s collections. Lastly, you’ll choose a topic from the course and explain how to use it as empirical evidence that supports common ancestry and biological evolution.

Graded: Module Three Quiz

Graded: Peer-Reviewed Assignment


The History of Life

You will learn about the role of extinction in evolution, and find out what the relatedness of major groups of living things reveals about the history of life. You’ll also watch videos of scientists at work and learn how to use them in your classroom.

Graded: Module Four Quiz


Human Evolution

This module explores the rich variety of hominids on the tree of life, along with how and when different human species – including Homo sapiens – migrated around the world. You’ll also learn strategies for teaching evolution in culturally diverse classrooms.

Graded: Module Five Quiz

Course Conclusion