Discovery Institute Files Public Records Request in OSU Evolution Academic Freedom Case

SEATTLE – Discovery Institute has filed a public records request with the Ohio State University (OSU) seeking all documents related to Darwinist attacks on OSU doctoral candidate Bryan Leonard. The request was submitted under the Ohio Public Records Act.

In June, Leonard’s dissertation defense in the area of science education was suddenly postponed after three Darwinist professors at OSU attacked Leonard’s dissertation research because it analyzed how teaching students evidence for and against macroevolution impacted student beliefs. According to a news report in The Columbus Dispatch, the professors admitted at the time that they had not read Leonard’s dissertation.

“We are concerned that Leonard is being targeted for unfair and possibly illegal treatment because of his viewpoint about evolution, in violation of his First Amendment rights,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

“We are further concerned that university officials may have been improperly influenced in their actions by outside Darwinist pressure groups who are trying to destroy Leonard’s career because of his support for teaching scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory.”

Leonard, who is a high school biology teacher as well as a graduate student, helped draft Ohio’s innovative “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan adopted last year for use in schools statewide by the Ohio State Board of Education. In May of 2005, Leonard also testified in favor of new science standards being drafted in Kansas that would cover scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory.

“It looks an awful lot like Leonard is being targeted for payback,” said West.

The public records request was submitted by attorney Seth Cooper, a Senior Program Analyst in Public Policy & Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute.

“We are requesting all communications to and from university officials involving Mr. Leonard’s Ph.D. candidacy in order to determine if university officials have violated his rights,” said Cooper. “We also want to determine the extent to which university actions may have resulted from a coordinated campaign by outside pressure groups to deprive Leonard of his academic freedom and his constitutional rights.”

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Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.