Human evolution is a subject of fascination to scientists and the public alike, but often scientific discoveries and theories only reach wider audiences through tabloid-level description. One of the main goals of IN AFRICA is to increase the knowledge and understanding of the evolution of our species and its diversity at all levels.
To realise this goal, our research programme will implement a three-tier strategy of scientific and public dissemination, involving electronic and paper media, workshops, conferences, schools and museums in order to target the academic and general public.
(1) African Pasts Website. Part of the larger ‘Pasts Websites Project’, African Pasts aims at collating, organising and storing archival and new information on the study of human evolution and prehistory in Africa, offering access to data, references and discussions. African Pasts will also ultimately host the public search interface of the project’s databases of fossil and archaeological discoveries.
(2) Academic Conferences & Workshops. The project will hold two academic meetings – a workshop in March 2014 to update, discuss and re-assess the project’s aims and objectives in the context of successes and failures to that date, and a final conference (May 2017), including project members and other specialists in the field to promote and disseminate the outcomes of the programme.
(3) Schools and Museum Programme. The project proposes to develop activities to enhance the awareness of the people of West Turkana of the importance of Africa and its fossil and archaeological records for the world’s understanding of why humans evolved and why humans look different from each other, with a special focus on school children and teachers. The activities proposed include:
- to contribute towards the provisioning of educational materials and infrastructure for primary schools in West Turkana – the EJOK PROJECT
- to contribute towards the building of a dedicated permanent exhibit on human evolution at the Lodwar (Turkana) Branch of the National Museums of Kenya
- to hold the first workshop on teaching human evolution at schools for school teachers in the Turkana Basin on why and how to teach evolution and prehistory at schools working in collaboration with the Prehistory Club of Kenya and the Turkana Basin Institute
- to hold a conference in Nairobi for school teachers from different parts of Kenya to discuss teaching school children about the role of Africa in the evolution of man