GEM1536



Darwin and Evolution

The world witnessed unprecedented commemorations of Charles Darwin in his bicentennary year 2009. He is remembered like no other figure in science history. Public understanding of Darwin and evolution remains a serious problem. What most people think they know about Darwin, his life and his famous book ‘On the origin of species’ is wrong. This module, requiring no background in biology or science history, will provide a solid background for understanding how the history of the theory of evolution actually unfolded. The course covers the history of geology, paleaontology and biology from the 1700s to the 20th century. The central focus is on the life and work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and how biological evolution was uncovered and accepted by the international scientific community in the 19th century, and beyond. There are case studies on how to assess historical claims and evidence. The final 3 or 4 lectures discuss recent developments in evolutionary biology.

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