• Applied evolution;
  • research funding;
  • science policy

There is a profound need for the scientific community to be better aware of the policy context in which it operates. To address this need, Evolution has established a new Outlook feature section to include papers that explore the interface between society and evolutionary biology. This first paper in the series considers the strategic relevance of evolutionary biology. Support for scientific research in general is based on governmental or institutional expenditure that is an investment, and such investment is based on strategies designed to achieve particular outcomes, such as advance in particular areas of basic science or application. The scientific community can engage in the development of scientific strategies on a variety of levels, including workshops to explicitly develop research priorities and targeted funding initiatives to help define emerging scientific areas. Better understanding and communication of the scientific achievements of evolutionary biology, emphasizing immediate and potential societal relevance, are effective counters to challenges presented by the creationist agenda. Future papers in the Outlook feature section should assist the evolutionary biology community in achieving a better collective understanding of the societal relevance of their field.