Every year, the College of Charleston celebrates Charles Darwin on Feb. 12, the anniversary of this renowned naturalist and explorer’s birth in 1809. But one day a year isn’t enough to properly honor the biologist – at least not for the faculty in the School of Sciences and Mathematics, and Engineering (SSME), who are spending an entire week celebrating and examining Darwin’s life and scientific contributions.
Darwin Week 2023 runs from Saturday, Feb. 11, to Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, and will include a series of daily talks and presentations by experts in a variety of fields. Each event is open to the public.
It’s an important and fitting tribute, says chemistry professor Jay Forsythe, chair of the Darwin Week planning committee.
“Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was first published in On the Origin of Species in 1859,” Forsythe explains. “It fundamentally changed the world’s understanding of life. In my view, it’s really impossible to overstate the importance of that work, which is the main reason why the College has been staging Darwin Week for over 20 years.
“Darwin’s idea coincided with and led to breakthroughs in many different fields,” Forsythe continues. “Obviously that includes biology, but also chemistry, physics, geology, mathematics, computer science, anthropology, and so on. Science does not occur in a bubble – it is a human endeavor with far-reaching impact. One of the reasons I think the College is a great place for Darwin Week is our emphasis on both the sciences and the liberal arts.”
This year, Forsythe and the planning committee have lined up a series of exciting lectures from prominent scientists who work in various fields. Lecture topics include “Evolution’s Problem with Sex, from Darwin to Today” and “Taming the Dark Matter Zoo Without Telescopes.”
“We purposely take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding Darwin’s work,” Forsythe says. “Consequently, our lineup of speakers and presenters includes advanced scholars in reproduction, biomimicry, anthropology and more.”
It all kicks off at 3:15 p.m. on Feb. 11 with flash talks from CofC faculty in the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building (SSMB) auditorium 129, an event at the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at 4 p.m. and a pizza party at 5 p.m. in the SSMB courtyard. And it culminates with an astronomy open house at 7 p.m. on Feb, 17, in the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center.
Darwin Week is free and open to the public. For additional and specific information on Darwin Week events, visit this page online.