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Centenary College to host discussions on public school science education

Kate Archer Kent

Centenary College’s annual symposium called "Forum" gets underway this week with a focus on science and religion in public schools. Three events are planned to spark a community conversation. 

Political activist and founder of Repeal Creationism, Zack Kopplin, will open the Forum Wednesday with a talk about how he got involved in the politics of science education as a high school student in Baton Rouge. Centenary’s philosophy department chairman Chris Ciocchetti said the Forum is ripe for discussion because public schoolchildren come from diverse religious backgrounds.

“One way which this comes out is around evolution, when we have science and evolution, and people have different ideas about that. It seemed worthwhile for us to talk about what should we do with that? How should public schools approach that issue?" Ciocchetti said.

The Forum concept is in its tenth year. It’s the first one that chemistry major Brittany Rapp has helped to organize. She looks forward to hearing a frank discussion about science education.

“Especially down in the South, it’s not really something that’s always openly discussed calmly or civilly. So, I think it will be interesting to see a community reaction," Rapp said.

Kopplin is set to speak Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 30, at 11:10 a.m. in Centenary’s Bynum Commons. A panel discussion made up of students and community members is set for Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. to address Kopplin’s argument on science education. All events take place in the Whited Room at Centenary's Bynum Commons.

Kopplin, now a student at Rice University, is best known for his effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. That was a controversial law passed in 2008 promoting the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in public schools.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.