Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Wendel Sloan
PORTALES – Dr. Jonathan Smith, who holds the Jack Williamson Visiting Endowed Chair in Science and the Humanities at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, is conducting an on-going colloquium on "Darwin and Darwinism Today: Contexts and Controversies."
The next presentation is on "Darwin and Evolutionary Biology Today" at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Sandia Room of the Campus Union The presenter is Dr. Marv Lutnesky, associate professor and chair of ENMU's Department of Biology. It will be a brown bag session.
The session will address the questions: How does evolution work? What is the evidence for it? How has Darwin's original theory been confirmed or modified? What questions are evolutionary biologists asking today?
The reading for the session is Chris Colby's "Introduction to Evolutionary Biology" . There's a link to it on the colloquium's web page.
Smith is an associate professor of English in the Humanities Department at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. One of the responsibilities of the holder of the Jack Williamson Endowed Chair in Science and the Humanities, which was endowed by Williamson himself, is to conduct a colloquium on a topic that will "facilitate discussion and reflection by students, faculty, and the broader community on the interactions of science and the humanities and their importance in enhancing American culture and society."
Smith, who holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, says that "no scientific theory has
had a wider impact on our understanding of what it means to be human, in both a literal and figurative sense, than Darwinian evolution, and none has generated more controversy in everyday American life. I hope the topic will spark the kind of engaged, thoughtful discussion that Jack (Williamson) envisioned. Since I'm a specialist in Victorian literature and science with a particular interest in Darwin, I'm looking forward to both learning more about the current status of Darwin's ideas and to contributing some of my own knowledge about the cultural impact of his work."
Jack Williamson, 93, is a retired professor emeritus of English from Eastern New Mexico University and a world-renowned science fiction writer. Winner of several Hugo and Nebula Awards, including a 2001 Hugo in the novella category, Williamson is still an active writer and teaches a science fiction writing course at Eastern. He was first published in 1928 in "Amazing Stories."
In endowing the chair, Williamson wrote: "Our Civilization grew out of the great legacy that comes down to us from the ancient Mediterranean world. Its gifts include the democratic institutions that guard our individual liberties, the freedom of thought that allows us to question received authority, the scientific method that seeks truth from nature rather than tradition, the new technologies of the information age that have spread it around the world. Now, however, in our era of political correctness, with old value systems swept away and all cultures equalized, it stands in danger from its own success. This endowment is funded as a small reminder of its worth."
Although each session will stand on its own, the series is designed to build from a look at the historical Darwin to the status of evolutionary theory today to some of the current debates and controversies that Darwin's ideas provoke.
Smith says that it's important to emphasize that the sessions are not simply or even primarily lectures, but occasions for discussion, conversation, question-raising, and debate.
All sessions are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Smith at 505-562-2662 (email@example.com).