Amanda Townley new director at NCSE

Amanda Townley
Amanda Townley, incoming director of the National Center for Science Education. Copyright by Amanda Townley. Used with permission.

Amanda Townley is set to become the third director of the National Center for Science Education, succeeding present director Ann Reid and the “legendary” founder Eugenie Scott, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis, posted today by the magazine Science. Dr. Townley, currently a professor of education at Georgia Southern University, is also President of the National Association of Biology Teachers. She will assume responsibility for a staff of 11 and an annual budget of $1.5 million in December.

Dr. Townley told Science that she had been brought up in a home that embraced young-earth creationism. When the biology teacher skipped the chapter on evolution, young Amanda took it upon herself to read that chapter and thought it made a lot of sense. She decided to become an evolutionary biologist and to teach evolutionary biology. Ultimately, she helped to develop a teaching strategy known as cultural and religious sensitivity, which “allows teachers and students to address their conflicting views before delving into the subject matter,” in the words of Mr. Mervis. Briefly, the teacher respects students’ views, and students are taught that their beliefs do not preclude accepting evolution. You may read more detail in the Science article and in an article by NCSE Director of Communications Paul Oh.

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