London Seminar

Fall 2022 Seminar: The Revolution of Evolution: A history of the theory’s impact on science and society

Ryan Kerney: Associate professor  Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Public Policy

In this London-based seminar, students will explore the history of evolutionary thought and its incredible repercussions. This course will be based on the history of perhaps the most influential argument made in the 19th century: Darwin’s (1859) “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Few students, or even professional Biologists, ever “get around” to reading Darwin, which is a shame. The bold ideas technically laid out in parallel by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, have shaped Biology, Psychology, and the Social and Political Sciences. Through this course, students will explore this influential argument as well as its historical context and its cultural, political, and philosophical repercussions. We will take full advantage of the museums, scientific societies, and physical sites where the drama of this amazingly influential argument unfolded. The layout of England, including the dense network of meandering London streets, the relatively tame and overly-scrutinized wildlife of its countryside, and the experimental thrill of Victorian era inventions and architecture, all influenced a remarkable cast of characters to develop modern evolutionary thought. The is no better classroom than London for this immersive experience.