Darwin Day at Baruch
On Friday, April 11th, Baruch College hosted a CUNY Faculty Development Colloquium "Darwin and Darwinism: Cross-Disciplinary Exploration of Learning" organized by Professor John H. Wahlert. Participating faculty from across CUNY discovered ways that Darwin and Darinism can be used to bridge the humanities, social sciences, business disciplines, and natural sciences. [link to Program of CUNY Colloquium]
Alexandra Logue, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Baruch, welcomed the participants and spoke briefly about evolutionary theory and the psychology of motivation.
Dr. David Kohn, Robert Fisher Oxnam Professor of Science and Technology at Drew University, gave the Plenary Lecture "Charles Darwin, Science and Esthetics." Students from one of the introductory biology classes attended this lecture and wrote short papers about it. An excerpt from one of these papers follows.
Perspectives on Darwin and Darwinism in the Curriculum were provided in short talks by Joseph Dauben (Professor of History at CUNY Graduate School), Gary Hentzi (Professor of English at Baruch), Marilyn Neimark (Professor of Accountancy at Baruch), Yaakov Shechter (Professor of Biology at Lehman College), Susan Tenenbaum (Professor of Political Science at Baruch) and Magda Vasillov (Professor of Visual and performing Arts at Hostos community College).
After lunch, a panel of Baruch faculty discussed the implementation of Darwin and Darwinism across disciplines, including Accountancy, Anthropology, Economics and Finance, English, History Management, Modern Languages, Natural Sciences, Political Science, Public Administration, and Sociology.
Gena Kim, Jesus Sterling and Robin Boyce described their experiences a student participants in A Feit Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar on the uses and abuses of Darwin's theory.
THINKING ABOUT DARWIN
John B. Sharkey
One and a half centuries after the publication of The Origin of Species, the Darwinian theory of natural selection is still widely debated in academic circles. I am almost ashamed to admit that prior to taking BIO 1003 (Survey of the Living World), my knowledge of Darwin's theory was limited to the phrase "survival of the fittest" and the possibility that man is a descendant of the ape.
Dr. Kohn's lecture gave me a little insight as to how radical the idea of natural selection must have seemed at the time. He also helped me visualize what Darwin saw on his arrival in South America, a place of beauty and grandeur so different from the place he came from. It must have set his imagination and curiosity in motion. By the abundance of vegetation that was almost impenetrable he realized how all the various plant species were competing for the same space in the fight for survival, much as we students at Baruch College are competing with one another so that we won't be left behind when the time comes to get a job.
Darwin's book was a best seller. I believe that had Darwin's publication been released in Ireland, it would not have been such an instant success. However, I concede that Darwin didn't have an easy sell in England almost 150 years ago either, as most people did believe in God "the creator."
Natural selection may have clarified a lot in the minds of many but questions remain unanswered. If we are all struggling to survive, then where do the altruistic people of this world fit in? Are we evolving into a weaker species? Is it inherent in our species to be good? Darwin's theory may also explain why the earth has not become overpopulated or overburdened to the point of exhaustion; maybe wars serve a purpose of making room.
Return to Darwin and Darwinism web page.
Last updated 5 June 1998 (JHW)