The year 2009 was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. To commemorate these events lecture series were given around the world, some of which are listed below.
Carl Zimmer: Darwin and Beyond
A lecture given on the occasion of Darwin's 200th birthday, February 12, 2009, at North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. BlipTV
The New York Times Book Review calls Carl Zimmer "as fine a science essayist as we have." In his books, essays, and articles, Zimmer reports from the frontiers of biology, where scientists are expanding our understanding of life. In 2007 he won the National Academies of Science Communication Award. He also lectures regularly at universities, medical schools, and museums. His biosketch His blog: Loom
Steve Jones: Is Human Evolution Over?
Steve Jones is a professor of genetics and head of the biology department at University College London. Wikipedia
1. The Public Understanding of Evolution
A lecture given June 2009, sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Idaho as part of “Evolution 2009," the joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN). The presentation is available here in RealPlayer format.
Eugenie Scott is executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).
At the conference, Scott was presented with the first Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution "to recognize individuals whose sustained and exemplary efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science and its importance in biology, education, and everyday life in the spirit of Stephen Jay Gould." According to the citation, "As the executive director of the National Center for Science Education she has been in the forefront of battles to ensure that public education clearly distinguishes science from non-science and that the principles of evolution are taught in all biology courses."
2. Creationism: Still crazy after all these years
This December 2009 lecture, presented at the 2009 Atheist Alliance International conference, is available on NCSE's YouTube channel. Scott describes the evolving history of the antievolution movement in the United States, from attempts to balance the teaching of evolution with "creation science" or "intelligent design" to the present spate of stealth creationist tactics such as "academic freedom" and (in Texas) "all sides of scientific evidence." A question-and-answer session followed, introduced by Richard Dawkins.
Stanford University: Darwin's Legacy
1. Introduction: William Durham, Stanford University
2. Evolution vs Creationism: Eugenie Scott, National Center for Science Education
3. Darwin biography: Janet Browne, Harvard University
4. Philosophical importance of Darwin: Dan Dennett, Tufts University
5. Species: Peter and Rosemary Grant, Princeton University
6. Darwin's life and work: Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History
7. Social Darwinism: Melissa Brown, Stanford University
8. Virus evolution and understanding cancer: Paul Ewald, Xavier University
9. Social behavior: Russell Fernald, Stanford University
10. Literary aspects: George Levine, Rutgers University
Case Western Reserve University: Year of Darwin
2. Evolution of the Immune System: Gary Litman, University of South Florida
3. How evolution works in regards to animal development: Sean B. Carroll, University of Wisconsin, Madison
6. Climate Change and Diversification of Antarctic Fishes: Thomas Near, Yale University
7. Finding Your Inner Fish: Neil Shubin, University of Chicago
8. The Locus of Evolution: Evo Devo and the Genetics of Adaptation: Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago
9. Modeling Complex Adaptive Systems: John Holland, University of Michigan
10. Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins: Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution and George Mason University
11. Robert R. Kohn Memorial Lecture—Evolutionary Aspects of Aging: Steven N. Austad, University of Texas Health Science Center
Arizona State University: Darwinfest
1. Darwin and the Future of Biology: Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
2. Exploring The Superorganism: Bert Hölldobler, Arizona State University
3. Don’t be such a Scientist! Randy Olson, Filmmaker
4. Is Darwinism past its “Sell By” date? Michael Ruse, Florida State University
5. On the Origin of Our Species: Darwin and Human Evolution: Bernard Wood, George Washington University
6. Darwin’s Birthday Suit: The Evolution of Human Skin and Skin Color: Nina G. Jablonski, Penn State University
7. Darwin´s strange inversion of reasoning: Daniel Dennett, Tufts University
8. Darwin and the Ascent of Man: Why humans are such hypersocial apes? Sarah Hrdy, Emeritus UC Davis
9. Darwin's Finches: Peter R. and B. Rosemary Grant, Princeton University
10. Celebrating Darwin: 1909, 1959, and 2009: Janet Browne, Harvard University
University of Chicago: Darwin 2009
1. Speciation: Problems and Prospects: Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago
2. Dinosaurs: Phylogenetic Reconstruction from Darwin to the Present: Paul Sereno, University of Chicago
3. Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology: The Revitalized Partnership: David Jablonski, University of Chicago
4. Great Transformations in Life: Insights from Genes & Fossils: Neil Shubin, University of Chicago
5. Darwin's Biology of Intelligent Design: Robert J. Richards, University of Chicago
Cal Academy of Sciences: Evolve 2009
1. The Evolving World: David Mindell, California Academy of Sciences
2. Darwin in Southern South America: Gary Williams, California Academy of Sciences
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University
1. Darwin and the Ancient Earth: Dinosaurs and the ‘Deep Past’ in the 19th-Century Imagination: Jim Secord, University of Cambridge
2. Darwin in Cambridge: from Christ’s College to the Beagle: John van Wyhe, Director of DarwinOnline
3. The Roots of a Theory: How Plants Specimens Led a Young Darwin to Discovery: John Parker, University of Cambridge
4. Uncovering our Origins: Monkeys, Apes and ‘Primitive Man’ - and how Darwin got it wrong: Robert Foley, Leverhulme Centre
5. ‘Flaunting It’ - Sexual Selection and the Art of Courtship: Tim Clutton-Brock, University of Cambridge
6. And more...
Southern Methodist University: Darwin's Evolving Legacy
1. Introducing Darwin: Provost Paul Ludden
2. Why Texans Shouldn't Let Creationists Mess With Science Education: Barbara Forrest,
Southeastern Louisiana University
3. A History of Earth's Formation: Richard Carlson, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
4. The Evolution of Desire: David Buss, University of Texas, Austin
5. The Everyday Practice of Science: Fred Grinnell, University of Texas, Southwestern
6. What Darwin's Theory of Evolution Means to Me: Christina Paulson, Graduate Student in Biology
7. Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion: Francisco Ayala, University of California, Irvine
8. Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species: Sean B. Carroll, University of Wisconsin
9. Methodist Perspectives on Darwin and Creation: Theodore Walker Jr., SMU's Perkins School of Theology
10. What Darwin Found Convincing: A New Look at His Human and Non-Human Data: William Durham
, Stanford University
Link to lectures via SMU
11. Darwin and Intelligent Design: Elliot Sober
, University of Wisconsin--Madison
The Darwin 150 Project
2. Variation: Chapters 1 and 2 of 'On the Origin of Species’: Pulitzer Prize-winning Jonathan Weiner, Columbia University
3. The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and the DNA Record of Evolution: Sean Carroll, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Nov 4, 2009)
4. Frontiers of Evolution: E.O. Wilson, Everett Mendelsohn, and others (Nov 24, 2009)
5. Celebrating 150 Years of 'Origin of Species': Gerald Edelman, Paul Ekman, Terrence Deacon (Nov 24, 2009)
University of California San Diego: Evolution Matters and the Diversity of Development
1. Clockwork Genes: Biological Rhythms in Health and Agriculture: Steve Kay, UC San Diego
2. Embryos and Evolution: William McGinnis, UC San Diego
3. The Evolution of Complexity: From the Human Brain to the Rainforest: Christopher Wills, UC San Diego
4. Unraveling the Mysteries of Flower Formation: Martin Yanofsky, UC San Diego
5. The Genetics of Primate Evolution: A Rosetta Stone for Understanding Human Disease: Ajit Varki, UC San Diego
Darwin College, Cambridge, Lecture Series 2009
1. The Making of the Fittest: Sean Carroll, University of Wisconsin
2. Darwin's Intellectual Development: Janet Browne, Harvard University
3. Global Darwin: Jim Secord, University of Cambridge
4. Darwin in the Literary World: Rebecca Stott, University of East Anglia
5. Darwin and Human Society: Paul Seabright, University of Toulouse
6. Evolution and Conservation of Biodiversity: Craig Moritz, University of California
7. Is Human Evolution Over? Steve Jones, University College London
8. The Boundaries of Darwinism: John Dupre, University of Exeter
Also available via iTunes
BBC Radio 4 presents "Darwin: The Genius of Evolution" 2009
Darwin: In Our Time
Melvyn Bragg presents a major Radio 4 series re-assessing Darwin's life and work in conversation with leading historians, biologists, and experts.
Five eminent contemporary thinkers write a letter to Charles Darwin to provide us with an intimate understanding of how some modern-day scientists view Darwin's continuing legacy.
· Dr Craig Venter, one of the men who first successfully mapped the human genome, tells Darwin about his own experiences as a collector, medic and geneticist.
· Sir Jonathan Miller takes issue with Darwin's thoughts on reproduction and describes the huge advances in the understanding of genetics that have filled the holes in Darwin's understanding of inheritance.
· Prof Jerry Coyne, whose main research relates to On Origin of Species, tells of the huge body of evidence that has been discovered since its publication to support Darwin's theory.
· Dr Peter Bentley, who works at the cutting edge of digital biology, tells Darwin about the emerging field of evolutionary computing.
· Prof Baruch Blumberg, who received the 1976 Nobel Prize for his work on viral infection, tells Darwin about his work with the hepatitis B virus and his later work at NASA searching for life on other planets.
Darwin, My Ancestor
A uniquely personal touch for the BBC’s Darwin series as his great-great-grand-daughter, the writer Ruth Padel, embarks on a quest to explore four aspects underlying her ancestor’s genius. Ruth looks at Darwin the man and attempts to unravel some of the thoughts and emotions which shaped him. It is her very personal journey to discover more about her ancestor.
National Museum of Australia in Canberra: Darwin symposium 2009
This symposium was an opportunity to examine the life and times of Charles Darwin, the impact of his published work and his scientific legacy. The Museum's aim was to create a forum for examining and understanding the life, work and legacy of Charles Darwin. The symposium was hosted by Robyn Williams AM, well-known Australian science writer and radio presenter. Link to Audio
Why Celebrate Darwin?
Dust Off Your Darwin Costume: It's Evolution Weekend!
Darwin shouldn't be hijacked by New Atheists - he is an ethical inspiration
The 2009 anniversaries of this great British scientist must explore beyond the usual squabbling over faith.
Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, Monday 29 December 2008.
Next year there will be no escaping one man and his legacy - 2009 will be marked by television series, books, debates, conferences and exhibitions devoted to Charles Darwin and his two anniversaries: the 200th of his birth; and the 150th of his book, On the Origin of Species. One might imagine that there was little more to be written on the man, but the coming year will bring the publication of plenty more books, starting this week with a helpful Rough Guide to Evolution - Darwin's big idea that changed the world - and in 12 months' time 50 new titles should have arrived in bookshops. It is shaping up to be the biggest anniversary ever of an individual's life.
There are some obvious good reasons for making such a fuss. He is one of the three great intellectuals of the 19th century who shaped modernity, along with Marx and Freud. Unlike the others, whose reputations have been somewhat battered by a century or so of ferocious debate, Darwin's standing is now higher than ever. Much of what he argued has been proved right. Scientists, particularly biologists, are full of awe for a man whose thinking was so meticulous, so full of original insight and astonishingly ahead of its time. He is, Newton apart, the greatest British scientist ever, so it makes good sense for the British Council, among others, to use this as an opportunity to flag up the prestigious history of British science.
But there is an even more serious purpose than flying the flag or celebrating intellectual history. What drives this anniversary is a missionary zeal to persuade and convince the public of the truth of Darwin's great discoveries, because, astoundingly - despite the mountain of scientific evidence - there is still considerable scepticism and even hostility to this great Victorian. A poll for the BBC in 2006 found that less than half the British population accepted the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life. Comparable figures in the US are attributed to its intense religiosity, but given the very low levels of regular worshippers in the UK, religious faith can't account entirely for the resistance to Darwinian evolution. So what is it?
Freud's explanation in 1920 was that "humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love. The first was when it realised that our earth was not the centre of the universe ... The second was when biological research robbed man of his peculiar privilege of having been specially created and relegated him to a descent from the animal world". One wonders how long it took for Copernicus to be treated with respect; one scholar of Darwin suggested it could be another couple of centuries before we can forgive the man.
There have been plenty of other reasons to be suspicious. Darwin's ideas have been taken up and used by a litany of crooks and villains for their own purposes. "Survival of the fittest", the phrase most closely associated with Darwin and more properly credited to his contemporary Herbert Spencer, hatched a host of pernicious theories in the 20th century from eugenics to social Darwinianism.
So the first imperative for the anniversary is to strip away the accumulation of mythology that has made Darwin such a villain. After speaking to five scholars of Darwin, who between them have accumulated a small pile of books on the subject, the one common refrain was that far too much has been dumped on the man. He was a brilliant scientist, but he was not a philosopher, nor a political or social theorist. He never claimed that his theories could explain everything, and certainly not everything about what it was to be human; on the contrary he himself maintained a very Victorian sense of moral accountability that he never sought to justify in terms of natural selection.
In particular, what would have baffled Darwin is his recruitment as standard bearer for atheism in the 21st century. Darwin kept his pronouncements on religion to a minimum, partly out of respect for his Christian wife. Despite continuing claims that he was an atheist, most scholars acknowledge that he never went further than agnosticism.
Yet bizarrely, the whole 19th-century collapse of faith is now pinned on Darwin. While he was poring over his pigeons, biblical scholars were hard at work radically revising the historical understanding of the Bible and arguably doing as much as he ever did to undermine the possibility of a literal reading of scripture. The work of the Victorian geologist Charles Lyell debunked the idea of seven days of creation in Genesis long before Darwin.
The fear is that the anniversary will be hijacked by the New Atheism as the perfect battleground for another round of jousting over the absurdity of belief (a position that Darwin pointedly never took up). Many of the prominent voices in the New Atheism are lined up to reassert that it is simply impossible to believe in God and accept Darwin's theory of evolution; Richard Dawkins and the US philosopher Daniel Dennett are among those due to appear in Darwin200 events. It's a position that infuriates many scientists, not to mention philosophers and theologians.
"A defence of evolution doesn't have to get entangled in atheism," says Mark Pallen, professor of microbial genomics at Birmingham and author of The Rough Guide to Evolution. Bob Bloomfield, of the Natural History Museum, says: "We want to move the agenda on to the relevance of his ideas today and put aside this squabbling over faith and dogma."
An attempt to do just that will be in one of the most important of the new crop of Darwin books: Darwin's Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, published next month. They argue that Darwin was driven by a moral impulse - abolitionism. He set out to prove that all human beings, regardless of skin colour, were essentially the same, all descended within a few thousand generations from shared parentage. It was Darwin's refutation of the scientific racism of his day used to justify slavery.
Bloomfield argues that Darwin's theories of evolution are rich in the ethical inspiration essential for the huge environmental crisis we now face. Common descent provides scientific underpinning for the kinship of all human beings - this is no longer simply an ideal, but a scientific fact. And human beings are connected to all other living things on earth; our relationship with the natural world is not one of dominion but intimate interdependence. Darwin may have provoked outrage by displacing human self-aggrandisement, but he also hugely widened the scope of understanding into how the earth has come to be, and thus the responsibility for how it evolves from here. In comparison with such lofty aims, a row over whether evolution is proof of atheism would be a monumental and nonsensical waste of everyone's time.