Tampa Bay Times Story on Evolution Institute’s New Early Learning Center

Posted by Ashle Bailey

Advocates say help is on the way for troubled Potter Elementary
by Marlene Sokol

Children who live near Potter Elementary School will have a new option in August. An early learning center is opening just steps away, serving kindergarten and first grade, with plans to expand later.

It’s one of several projects under way to assist Potter, a four-time F school whose troubles have attracted widespread attention in recent months.

[…] Leaders of the early learning center, which will be a charter school, say their plans began in a local think tank called the Evolution Institute.

The institute “takes science and research and applies it to today’s issues (and) problems; education obviously is one of them,” said Michelle Shimberg, who chairs the board that will oversee the Early Childhood Learning Center.

Shimberg spent decades as a volunteer in the schools and the district, and she belongs to a family well known for community service and philanthropy. Serving with her are retired educators Jerry and Virginia Lieberman.

Their strategies include project-based learning, which lets students focus on their interests, and a community center location that can draw in siblings and others outside the school rolls. Parents and other family members will rotate in and out to give lessons in art, music and other enrichment courses.

“The idea of developing strong relationships with families, with parents, with community members in support of the students and the teachers at the school, we believe, will help produce better outcomes,” Shimberg said. She expects the benefits to extend far beyond the 54 students in kindergarten through second grade at the school.

Shimberg’s group first approached the district with hopes of applying its strategies to district schools. Instead it was advised to open a charter school, a sometimes controversial vehicle that gets tax funding but is run independently.

Each class of 18 students will have a full-time aide in addition to the teacher.

One built-in advantage: Potter suffers from a high student mobility rate, meaning kids in the largely transient East Tampa neighborhood frequently move from home to home and school to school. But a child who moves can stay in the same charter school.

[…] Shimberg and the Liebermans are creating the opposite — a homegrown charter school that will start small. And they are mindful of poverty in East Tampa, which often makes for stressful home environments and wary parents.

“What we want to do is to be that environment where people are engaged,” Shimberg said. “They are engaged at all different levels and there are trusting relationships.”

EI Advisory Board Member Barbara Oakley Featured in Wall Street Journal

Posted by Ashle Bailey

How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You
‘Mindshift’ author Barbara Oakley on the science and practice of learning—and finding love at the South Pole.

Grand challenges for the study of cultural evolution published in Nature

Posted by Ashle Bailey

The founding members of the EI’s Cultural Evolution Society were surveyed to identify the major scientific questions and ‘grand challenges’ currently facing the study of cultural evolution. They present the results and discuss the implications for an emergent synthesis in the study of culture based on Darwinian principles.

Evolution Institute project Seshat on New Scientist: The database that is rewriting history to predict the future

Posted by Ashle Bailey

Seshat is a vast and growing database of historical and archaeological knowledge that can be explored using scientific techniques. That makes it a powerful tool for testing and ultimately discarding hypotheses. “A cemetery for theories,” is how Seshat co-founder Peter Turchin at the University of Connecticut in Storrs describes it. By making history more evidence-based, he and his colleagues hope it will become more relevant.

Peter Turchin for Bloomberg: Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Society Frays

Posted by Ashle Bailey

Complex human societies, including our own, are fragile. They are held together by an invisible web of mutual trust and social cooperation. This web can fray easily, resulting in a wave of political instability, internal conflict and, sometimes, outright social collapse.

Analysis of past societies shows that these destabilizing historical trends develop slowly, last many decades, and are slow to subside. The Roman Empire, Imperial China and medieval and early-modern England and France suffered such cycles, to cite a few examples. In the U.S., the last long period of instability began in the 1850s and lasted through the Gilded Age and the “violent 1910s.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Evolution Institute Vice President Peter Turchin featured on Through the Wormhole

Posted by Ashle Bailey

In a recent episode of Through the Wormhole titled “What Makes a Terrorist?”, Morgan Freeman presented Prof. Turchin’s ‘radical’ idea, and Evolution Institute project Seshat: Global History Databank, of using history as a guide to understand why people join terrorist groups, what breeds such groups to begin with, and what to do about it now.

Evolution Institute scientific advisor teach Academy Award winning actor about the origins of religion

Posted by Ashle Bailey

In National Geographic’s The Story of God, host Morgan Freeman travels to Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic proto-city settlement in Anatolia, Turkey to investigate whether early farming civilizations believed in God. At the Çatalhöyük site, Freeman interviews Evolution Institute scientific advisor and University of Oxford anthropologist Prof. Harvey Whitehouse.

Evo Institute’s Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord” provides a crucial decoder ring for Trump-era social strife

Posted by Ashle Bailey

Evolution Institute’s Vice President Peter Turchin’s newest book has been featured in the Salon article “Breaking point: America approaching a period of disintegration, argues anthropologist Peter Turchin”

Anthropologist Peter Turchin explains how the seeds of Brexit unrest were planted during the Carolingian Empire

Posted by Ashle Bailey

The Brexit vote caught most elite observers by surprise and has spurred a flurry of talk of further possible defections from the EU. But one person who was not so surprised was Evolution Institute Vice President Peter Turchin, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut, author most recently of “Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth.”

EI’S Peter Turchin say BREXIT is just a symptom of Europe’s Larger Issues

Posted by Ashle Bailey

In the Science of Civilizations, Brexit Is the European Union’s Reckoning

On June 23, millions of United Kingdom citizens will vote to leave the European Union. And millions of others will vote to remain. If the leavers win, the UK and EU will begin a methodical divorce that many analysts expect to destabilize the nation and the continent.

All of which might happen eventually, no matter what the UK decides. The so-called Brexit vote is the culmination of years of growing disillusionment—mostly from older and working class Britons—with the European Union’s trade agreements and open border policies. It is also part of a larger trend. Across Europe, populist parties have been fighting to regain sovereignty from the EU. The problems of each country, and of the European Union itself, are contemporary, specific, and complicated. But they fit into a model that some scientists have recognized as symptomatic of a civilization on its way towards disintegration.

The European Union began after World War II as set of trade agreements between five countries. Nations with close business ties, the thinking went, would probably be less likely turn squabbles into wars. Over 60 years, the compact has grown into a proper government across 28 member nations, regulating all those things that governments regulate: economy, labor, environment, migration. “I think of the European Union as an empire,” says Peter Turchin, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut. “The EU is unusual because it was constructed without conquest, but in terms of functionality it is not unlike other historical examples.” Read the rest of the article at Wired

 

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photo via flickr.com/slimjim