ASU Darwin events keep evolving

Article Published: Nov. 12, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Appalachian State University is continuing its celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book "On the Origin of Species" with a series of lectures and events focusing on Darwin's ideas and their impact on society, and his theory of evolution.

On Nov. 13, Janet Browne from Harvard University's Department of the History of Science will present "Commemorating Darwin: 1809-2009: A History of Prior Darwin Celebrations."

Her talk begins at 8 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Blue Ridge Ballroom.

Browne is a noted Darwin scholar, and her two-volume biography of Darwin is considered the best ever written.

Other scheduled events include Edward Larson presenting "The Scopes Trial in History and the Theatre" Thursday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Larson is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Summer of the Gods," an historical retrospective of the Scopes Trial, as well as several other books on the history of evolution and the Galapagos Islands. He is professor of law at Pepperdine University.

Michael Ruse will present "Darwin at Two Hundred Years Old: Does He Still Speak to Us?" Monday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister professor of history and philosophy of science at Florida State University and the foremost philosophical scholar on the relationship between evolution and science. He is the author of "Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?"

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, Jim Costa, director of the Highlands Biological Station at Western Carolina University, will discuss "Charles Darwin and the Origin of the Origin." The talk is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center's Powers Grand Hall. Costa is a noted Darwin scholar and evolutionary ecologist, as well as author of the soon-to-be-released "Darwin Line by Line: The Living Origin," an annotated version of "On the Origin of Species." He will discuss how Darwin came to write the work.

Sean Carroll presents "Into the Jungle: The Epic Search for the Origins of Species and the Discoveries that Forged a Revolution" Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Carroll is a professor of molecular biology, genetics and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher. He is the author of several popular books on evolution, including the upcoming "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Specie." Carroll will be host of a PBS "NOVA" special about Darwin and evolution, which will be shown nationally this coming spring. His talk is co-sponsored by the Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee and by the university's Morgan Distinguished Lecture Series in the Sciences.

Paul Ewald from the University of Louisville's Department of Biology will present a lecture Tuesday, March 17, at 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center's Powers Grand Hall. His presentation is titled "Darwinian Insights into the Causes and Prevention of Cancer." Ewald is noted for his theories regarding the co-evolution of humans and disease organisms. He argues in his book "Plague Time" that many diseases attributed to environmental stresses may actually be caused by bacteria or viruses instead.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jonathan Weiner will speak on "The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time" Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m., in Plemmons Student Union's Blue Ridge Ballroom. Weiner is a professor in Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. His Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Beak of the Finch" profiled the research of the husband/wife team Peter and Rosemary Grant as they carried out extensive studies of evolution on Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Elisabeth Lloyd from Indiana University's Department of History and Philosophy of Science will present the lecture "Darwinian Evolution and the Female Orgasm: Explanations and Puzzles" Thursday, April 2, at 8 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Blue Ridge Ballroom. Lloyd is a leading historian and philosopher of science and author of several books on these subjects.

Niles Eldredge, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, will speak on "Darwin, the Beagle and the Origin of Modern Evolutionary Biology" Monday, April 6, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Eldredge, along with his colleague the late Stephen J. Gould, co-authored the seminal paper on punctuated equilibrium which emphasized that evolutionary change was not constant through time. He is also author of more than a dozen scientific books for the public, including "Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life," a new analysis of how Darwin came to write "On the Origin of Species," based largely on Darwin's original notes and writings.

In addition to the lectures, a series of affiliated events has been planned, including an Evolution Film Festival which will feature a variety of movies based on or about the subject of evolution; a play by the L.A. Theater Works based on the Scopes Trial (Wednesday, Feb. 11); a performance by the Department of Theatre and Dance of the courtroom scene from "Inherit the Wind" (Feb. 12-14 and 19-21); art and music events; plus special outreach activities for students and teachers.

Additional details may be obtained at or by calling the Office of Academic Affairs at 828-262-7660.

The presentations are sponsored by the University Forum Committee, the Division of Academic Affairs, University College, the Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional support for the series has been provided by the Joan Askew Vail Endowment, and the Morgan Lecture Series in the Sciences.

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