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MOOC ‘Evolution Today’

Evolution is all around you every day. This is the message of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) of Leiden University and Naturalis that is offered free of charge to anyone interested.

The online university course ‘Evolution today’ shows that evolution is not just a thing of the past, but is still ongoing. Evolution impacts our health, agriculture, the economy and culture on a daily basis. Naturalis and Leiden University collaborate closely in the area of research and education. The course was developed and is taught by Menno Schilthuizen, who is Professor of Trait Evolution and Biodiversity and holds positions at both institutions, together with Naturalis researcher Rutger Vos and evolutionary biologist at the Institute of Biology Leiden, Maurijn van der Zee.

The instructors take MOOC enrollees outside, where they illustrate evolutionary processes using examples that everyone can observe on any given day. The MOOC also shows that evolution takes place on different levels, from molecular and cellular level to individuals and collaborating groups. An example of this is the way cancer cells evolve inside a patient's body, or the way animals and plants in cities adapt to the presence of humans. The three instructors are constantly drawing parallels with the reality of our everyday world, whether the topic of discussion is illnesses caused by viruses, aging or urban environments. They also discuss how human beings  influences their own evolution and that of other organisms.

The online course is offered free of charge to anyone who enrolls through Coursera. The course lasts five weeks, and the language of instruction is English.