Brian Alters

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Brian Alters

Brian J. Alters (B.Sc., Ph.D. USC) is a professor in Chapman University's College of Educational Studies and is also the president of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).[1] He directs Chapman’s Evolution Education Research Center,[2] has taught science education at both Harvard and McGill Universities, and is regarded as a specialist in evolution education.


Alters has a B.Sc. in biology and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Southern California.

Alters is the author of several books on biology and the intelligent design controversy. With his wife Sandra M. Alters, he has written Biology: Understanding Life[3] which he describes as "a university biology non-majors textbook", and Teaching Biology in Higher Education,[4] "a book written to instructors at the college level on how to teach biology". He is also the author of Teaching Biological Evolution in Higher Education: Methodological, Religious, and Non-Religious Issues[5] which he says is "a book specifically about the conflict that instructors see students bring into their courses concerning evolution". Alters and Alters have also written Defending Evolution in the Classroom,[6] with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, which aims to help science teachers to understand the creation-evolution controversy and to teach evolution effectively in light of the controversy.[7] He also contributed a chapter to the a chapter in Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools,[8] edited by Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch of the NCSE.

Because of this specialization, he was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the 2005 case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.[9][10][11] He was also brought in for the retrial of Selman v. Cobb County[12] before that was settled out of court in favor of the plaintiffs.

In 2003 Alters was first awarded the College of Education's highest teaching award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, followed by the Principal's Prize for Excellence in Teaching at McGill University.[13]

In 2005 he was appointed to the board of directors of the American-based National Center for Science Education and received its "friend of Darwin" award.

In 2008 Alters became a co-host of CBC Television's nationally broadcast prime-time science series Project X.[14] His co-hosts are Dr. Jennifer Gardy (bioinformatics/microbiology at the University of British Columbia), Dr. Brian Fleck (professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta), and Marc Huot (Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Alberta).

Grant controversy[edit]

In 2005 Alters was denied funding for a research project provisionally titled "Detrimental effects of popularizing anti-evolution's intelligent design theory on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers." by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The SSHRC reason for the rejection included the statement that "Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct".[15] This was reported in Nature[16] and other media.[17][18][19]

Letters were written to the SSHRC in support of Alters by the American Institute of Biological Sciences,[20] the American Sociological Association (ASA), the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution,[21] and others. The SSHRC replied by noting that "theory of evolution is not in doubt" but said that the reason for the rejection was that "the committee had serious concerns about the proposed research design".[22]



  1. ^ "NCSE's Board of Directors". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Hanson, Brittany (January 31, 2014). "Panel forum brings climate change, evolution to O.C." Orange County Register. Retrieved April 11, 2016. 
  3. ^ Alters & Alters, 2006
  4. ^ Alters & Alters, 2005
  5. ^ Alters, 2005
  6. ^ Alters & Alters, 2001
  7. ^ "Defending Evolution: A Guide to the Evolution/Creation Controversy". Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved April 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools ISBN 0-8070-3278-6
  9. ^ Expert witness report from Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Archived February 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover
  11. ^ Intelligent design decision reflects Dr. Brian Alters' testimony Archived May 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. McGill University press release, January 4, 2006
  12. ^ Alters Expert witness report for Selman v. Cobb County Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Brian Alters Wins Highest Teaching Award at McGill, National Center for Science Education
  14. ^ Project X - Home
  15. ^ Canadian controversy over funding for research on antievolutionism
  16. ^ Doubts over evolution block funding by Canadian agency, Nature
  17. ^ No intelligent design, no $, The Scientist
  18. ^ Prof denied grant over evolution Archived October 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Intelligent design not smart enough for science Archived August 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Windsor Star
  20. ^ AIBS Letter to Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Regarding the Importance of Evolution
  21. ^ CSEE letter to SSHRC Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. and
  22. ^ SSHR reply to CSEE Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]