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ASU Darwinfest celebrates famous naturalist


January 16, 2009

Why does Darwin matter? Some of the most fundamental questions about humanity and the human spirit have been in the forefront of modern experience thanks to the publication of Darwin’s four major books, including “On the Origin of Species.”

Arizona State University joins the global celebration of Darwin‘s 200th birthday (Feb. 12) and commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” with Darwinfest – a celebration of how the expression of radical thinking, scientific and technological enterprise can and has changed the world.

ASU Darwinfest captures how Darwin’s bold thinking has evolved into new understanding about our origins, biodiversity and life beyond planet Earth in multiple venues. These include the Darwin Distinguished Lecture Series and Darwin Days on the Tempe campus, and The Future of Evolution Lecture Series at the Arizona Science Center. In a festival environment highlighted by provocative panels and speakers, ASU graduate students and faculty are bringing out the best, as well as the beagles, in ASU.

Birthday festival events on Feb. 12 culminate in a tea party on ASU’s Hayden Lawn in Tempe, Arizona Beagle Rescue adoptions, Darwin Look-alike Contest and other family activities.

A key part of ASU Darwinfest is communicating with the community. February’s first events include the films “Flock of Dodos” and “Sizzle” with scientist and filmmaker Randy Olson. Panel discussions Feb. 9-13 range from “On the Origin of Our Species: Darwin and Human Evolution” and “Darwin’s Birthday Suit: The Origin of Skin and Skin Color” to “What’s Changed for Women in the Sciences since Darwin,” “Radical thinkers: the Origins of Novel Approaches in Science and Medicine,” and “Teaching and Learning Evolution in America: Darwin’s Role in the Classroom.”

In addition, Arizona State University leads the conversation “Evolution and Faith revisited: Can the two be reconciled?” at the Arizona Science Center’s Science Café and holds a half-day symposium, sponsored by the International Institute for Species, on “Discovery: Looking for Life: Adventures and Misadventures in Species Exploration.”

Add to these beagles, reptiles and bone displays, tours of ASU’s Institute for Human Origins and the Living Collection, and you have still just touched the tip of the celebratory iceberg. A full calendar of events (http://darwin.asu.edu/calendar.php) and detailed information about specific events is at http://darwin.asu.edu.