With the new Nature Discovery Gallery now open at the Museum, and the next installation, In Darwin’s Footsteps, due to open in early September, the Darwin Extravaganza is hotting up! I’ve been working on a brand new study day surrounding the impact Darwin’s work had on people’s understanding of their relationship to the world, and how the theory of evolution affected the way we think not just about science, but also about human nature.
These study days, entitled “Darwin and Humanity”, will show why it is wrong to dismiss evolution as ‘just a theory’ and how a lack of familiarity with scientific methods and terminology has led to widespread public misunderstanding of evolution. In order to investigate this vast topic, I’ve been liaising with our Head of Natural Environments Team and Curator of Zoology, Henry McGhie, who will be taking part. Henry has been leading the team developing the upcoming ‘Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist’ exhibition, which will form a central part of the study day, due to open in October. In addition to Henry, we have also secured the involvement of two anthropology lecturers from the University, who will be discussing the impact the theory of evolution had on the way we view the world and the diversity of culture within it.
Not only this, (I know, you ask, how can there possibly be more?!) students will have the opportunity to take part in an activity designed to demonstrate the basics of how evolution by natural selection happens. Lauren mentioned this activity, called Clippy Island developed with the assistance of the BBSRC, in a previous post. Toward the end of the ’Darwin and Humanity’ study day we will also be looking at how the theory of evolution has permeated the field of popular culture, albeit often misrepresented.
All in all, there is a lot to get through in the day, but I am confident that everyone involved will have fun and learn a whole host of new facts not just about evolution, but also about Darwin himself.