Fall Semester Course, Events to Recognize and Celebrate Darwin’s Influence

Contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571, joecarr@maine.edu
Kristin Sobolik at (207) 581-1893, sobolik@maine.edu

ORONO —  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species,” described by scientists as one of the most important publications of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  This seminal work discusses the Theory of Natural Selection and lays out the framework on how biological organisms change through time.

The University of Maine has scheduled a number of associated events throughout the fall semester, including a special course entitled “A Celebration of Darwin” which involves 14 faculty members from across campus who teach about or use natural selection in their research.  The course runs Aug. 31 through Dec. 9 and each of the lectures is open to the public.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is sponsoring an Oct. 15 keynote lecture by Daniel C. Dennett, an award-winning Darwin scholar who is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He has written more than 300 academic articles, nine books, including “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” and has edited or co-edited many others in the field of cognitive studies.

The week of Nov. 9-12 will feature a series of lectures, panel discussions and an overview of evolutionary research at UMaine.  Additionally, Fogler Library will have special Darwin displays throughout the semester.

“‘Origin of the Species’ is probably the most significant work in the last three centuries,”says Kristin Sobolik, professor of anthropology and climate change, and a key organizer of the Darwin celebration at UMaine. “It basically focuses on the foundation of all biological science. It is the foundational theory from which every single biologist is working.”

Darwin’s theory also has wended its way into scientific thought in the liberal arts and sciences, Sobolik adds.

The Darwin events, including each of the lectures, are free and open to members of the public. A schedule of events can be found at http://www2.umaine.edu/anthropology/Darwin1.html.

“I think the important highlight is, even 150 years later, researchers on this campus are still using natural selection for the basis of everything they do,” Sobolik says.”We want to bring this to the public to help people understand what natural selection is and what natural selection isn’t.”