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Parasite evolution is increasingly being recognized as one of the most important issues in applied evolutionary biology. Understanding how parasites maximize fitness whilst facing the diverse challenges of living in cells, hosts, and vectors, is central to disease control and offers a novel testing ground for evolutionary theory. The Centre for Immunity, Infection, and Evolution at the University of Edinburgh recently held a symposium to address the question "How do parasites maximise fitness across a range of biological scales?" The symposium brought together researchers whose work looks across scales and environments to understand why and how parasites 'do what they do', tying together mechanism, evolutionary explanations, and public health implications. With a broad range of speakers, our aim was to define and encourage more holistic approaches to studying parasite evolution. Here, we present a synthesis of the current state of affairs in parasite evolution, the research presented at the symposium, and insights gained through our discussions. We demonstrate that such interdisciplinary approaches are possible and identify key areas for future progress.