HSCI 2213: "The Darwinian Revolution"

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HSCI 2213 Darwinian Revolution

As a "Dreamcourse" this course will feature a number of guest lectures by scholars
who are widely renowned for both their scholarship and their teaching in the history and philosophy of science.

Course Description

The publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 radically altered prevailing perceptions of the natural history of life and has profoundly shaped western culture ever since.  Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection placed humanity in the natural order and thus it is unsurprising that it was controversial from the start.  The “Darwinian Revolution” was a revolution in culture as well as biology, and we will consider the history of the social, political and theological issues associated with the development of evolutionary thought.  In this course students will learn about both the “origins” and the “reception” of Darwinism, the state of natural history before Darwin and the fate of earlier evolutionary hypotheses.  Students will be expected to engage with the evidence that Darwin amassed in support of his theory of evolution by natural selection, as well as the range of criticisms, both social and scientific that were brought against it.  Students will read an extensive scientific literature from the eighteenth century through to the “Modern Synthesis” in the 1940s, the period in which Darwinian selection was brought together with genetics to form the new science of modern biology. 
In addition to becoming well versed in the scientific history of the “species question”, we shall also consider the social, philosophical, and religious implications that have been taken from Darwinism that endure into our own times, most notably perhaps, in the contemporary debates over genomics, and the place of evolution in the classroom.




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Page last updated: January 19th 2008