Charles Darwin symposium
Thursday 26 February 2009
As part of the Darwin exhibition, ABC Science Show presenter Robyn Williams hosted this symposium examining the life, work and legacy of naturalist Charles Darwin.
Missed the symposium?
The Darwin symposium consisted of three interlocking themes across three sessions. Each session included three presenters ending with a panel discussion inviting audience participation.
Theme One | Session One | Darwin: a concise story
Charles Darwin, the Shropshire lad and son of a wealthy society doctor, was originally intended to join the clergy but was more interested in collecting beetles. His fascination with the natural world was encouraged by a number of Anglican clergy one of whom recommended him as a suitable (if unfinished) naturalist for the unpaid position of gentleman's companion to Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle.
This session will explore Darwin the man and his voracious interest in the science of nature, the prevailing scientific and religious views of the era and Darwin's experiences on HMS Beagle, with particular emphasis on his time in Australia and subsequent return to England.
Chair: Nicholas Drayson
Presenters: Professor Iain McCalman, Professor Tom Frame, Emeritus Professor Frank Nicholas
Theme Two | Session Two | Darwin: On the Origin of Species
In 1859 Darwin's ideas were published in his seminal work On the Origin of Species. What are the 'big themes' that Darwin expressed in this publication and how did they contribute to scientific understanding of the natural world in Victorian England? What were the social, political, scientific, philosophical and theological reactions to this work?
This session will also explore the many misinterpretations of Darwin's ideas and how they have been used to support a number of racist and imperialist ideologies.
Chair: Dr Libby Robin
Presenters: Professor Paul Turnbull, Dr Barry Butcher, Tony Barta, Honorary Research Associate, La Trobe University
Theme Three | Session Three | Darwin: the legacy
Darwin's ideas remain the foundation of biological science, establishing the basis for our scientific understanding of the natural world. In recent years new technologies have given us the power to map and manipulate the natural world in ways that would have been inconceivable during Darwin's time.
How have Darwin's ideas led to current scientific research? Where is all this taking us and will science deliver a better future? And let's not ignore the ongoing debate between evolution and creationism in the public sphere!
Chair: Dr Bernadette Hince
Presenters: Professor Colin Groves, Professor Neil Ormerod, Dr Jeremy Burdon
Missed the symposium?
Darwin is based on an exhibition organised by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org) in collaboration with the Museum of Science, Boston; The Field Museum, Chicago; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; and the Natural History Museum, London.
Presented in conjunction with Art Exhibitions Australia.