Short interview with Kostas Kampourakis invited speaker in #EvoKEBCN21
Dear Dr. Kampourakis,
Question. How the theory of evolution has impacted your everyday life as a citizen?
The theory of evolution made me, a long time ago, reconsider the assumptions I had as a child about the existence of purpose and design in nature. Whereas I thought, like many other people, that everything must exist for a purpose, my understanding of the theory of evolution made me look for causes at the past instead of the future. This eventually made me realize that what we observe today is the outcome of long, natural processes that are unconscious and purposeless, and that therefore our existence is a magnificent contingent outcome of these processes.
Q. By participating in EvoKE BCN 21, What do you consider would be your main contribution to increase science literacy in evolution in society?
Whereas educators often argue about the importance of teaching evolution, they are rarely explicit about why it is actually useful to do so. In my presentation, I am going to argue that we need to think not only of evolution literacy, which is about what understanding students ought to develop about evolution), but also of evolutionary literacy, which pertains to what students should do and be able to do with this knowledge. The current COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, among other important issues, the lack of such evolutionary literacy, for instance about the relation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to other viruses and how it can have potentially emerged.
Q. You are a wide-known expert in the intersection between science education and philosophy of science. In your opinion, which are the best tools that philosophy of science can provide to improve science literacy in evolution among the general public?
Paraphrasing Theodosius Dobzhansky, I would go as far as to claim that science makes more sense in the light of philosophy (and history and sociology) of science. If we want to improve science literacy, we need non-experts to acquire not only a solid understanding of science concepts, but also a solid understanding of what science is, how it is done, and what kind of knowledge it produces – what we usually call “nature of science” in science education. Philosophy of science, as well as history and sociology and psychology of science, are necessary to achieve this goal. This means that in order to achieve science literacy, science education and communication should be explicit about science as a social process, the nature of scientific knowledge, the processes of scientific inquiry, the limitations of scientific approaches, the impact of uncertainty in science, and more.