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Year of Science events planned

by Karen A. Grava - February 2, 2009


This year marks the 200th anniversary of the shared birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. It also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, and the 400th anniversary of both Johannes Kepler’s publication of the first two laws of planetary motion, and the first telescope made by Galileo.

In an effort to engage the public in science and improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science, the year was proclaimed the national Year of Science by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and more than 185 professional societies, colleges and universities, museums, and corporations.

UConn will celebrate the Year of Science with performances, exhibits, lectures and seminars.

“At a time when the challenges facing humanity are growing rapidly, and when meeting those challenges increasingly depends on scientific research, the need for public support and understanding of science has never been greater,” says Kent Holsinger, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and former president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

A complete list of events for the year can be found at http://clas.uconn.edu/yearofscience/ Special events at UConn focusing on Darwin and Lincoln include:

  • Jan. 20-March 6, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), The Legacy of a Naturalist, an exhibit illustrating the life and career of Charles Darwin. Dodd Center Gallery.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, “The Legacy of Charles Darwin.” Speakers Constance Clark, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Michael Robinson, University of Hartford, Les Kaufman, Boston University, and Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University, will focus on the legacy of Darwin’s many contributions to science and society. 6:30 p.m., Branford House, first floor, Avery Point Campus.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, David Contosta, writer and historian, will discus his book Rebel Giants: The Revolutionary Lives of Lincoln and Darwin, as a prelude to the performance of Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln at Jorgensen. 4 p.m., Jorgensen Gallery.
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, “President Lincoln’s Text Message: The Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.” Forty days before he was murdered President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, a speech widely recognized as the best ever given by a U.S. President and also a classic of American rhetoric. The Humanities Institute will sponsor a symposium in which this 700-word oration will be interpreted. Hartford poet Nicole Miller will read the address, and professors Harry Stout of Yale University and John Stauffer of Harvard University will lead a panel discussion by UConn professors Christopher Clark (history), Wayne Franklin (English and American Studies), Lawrence Goodheart (history), Shayla Nunnally (political science and the Institute for African American Studies), and Jeffrey Ogbar (history and the Institute for African American Studies). 3 p.m. Great Hall, Alumni Center.
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln. This multimedia presentation examines the literal and imagined relationship between Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln – who were born within hours of one another on the same day – and the people of the United States born after the end of the Civil War. Using video and text drawn from both Darwin and Lincoln, compiled and narrated by actor/playwright Daniel Beaty, Haitian-American artist Daniel Bernard Roumain produces an imagined conversation between historical giants. The work features a 20-piece chamber ensemble together with four soloists. 8 p.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts (tickets $28 and $30). There will also be an open public rehearsal at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 and a post-performance Q & A.
  • Thursday, Feb. 19, Darwin Day at the Stamford Campus will feature performances about the life of Darwin by the Guild Players at noon and 7 p.m. in GenRe Auditorium.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25, Charles Darwin Bicentennial Colloquium Series. “Evolution and Faith: What is at Stake?” by John Haught, Georgetown University. 4 p.m., Dodd Center, Konover Auditorium.
  • Fridays, March 20 and 27, April 3 and 17, “Lincoln: the Man and the Myth.” Four class sessions will discuss Lincoln and the issues of race relations, along with the many misconceptions about Lincoln and why historians consider him the greatest American president. The class will be taught by Steve McGrath, a lecturer in history at Central Connecticut State University. 8:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m., Room 207, Waterbury Campus


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