Charles Darwin Scholar

Charles Darwin Scholar

The Charles Darwin Scholar Program is a biennial initiative established in 2013 to enhance Charles Darwin University’s links to the work and legacy of its namesake, Charles Darwin.

Darwin was arguably one of the most influential scientists the world has known. The Program brings eminent scholars of Darwin, or of the legacy of his work such as evolutionary biology, to CDU to engage in discussion, intellectual enquiry and activities to expand local knowledge and stimulate thinking. Charles Darwin Scholars are invited to deliver an Oration on their work - the Charles Darwin Oration.

Read more about Charles Darwin at the Beagle Kiosk.

Daniel Dennett

Oration 2018

Professor Daniel Dennett, from Tufts University USA, gave the 2018 Charles Darwin Oration ‘From Bacteria to Bach: Charles Darwin’s Vision Extended’ at Charles Darwin University in September 2018.

View the recording of the Oration on YouTube.

2018 Charles Darwin Scholar – Professor Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett

An internationally acclaimed philosopher, who specialises in the evolution of the human mind, has been appointed as Charles Darwin University’s 2018 Charles Darwin Scholar.

Daniel Dennett, who is Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Centre for Cognitive Studies in the School of Art and Sciences at Tufts University in the United States, will visit Charles Darwin University from 9 -21 September 2018.

Professor Dennett’s research focuses on the philosophy of the mind, science, and biology - particularly how these fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science – and the evolution of the human mind and what distinguishes it from other animals’ minds in terms of consciousness. Professor Dennett is well known for his views and input to the long-running international debate among evolutionary biologists around socio-biology and evolutionary psychology. His views – coming from the position of a philosopher – provide a perspective and analysis on how human minds have evolved that will be of great interest to both science and humanities staff and students at CDU, as well as to the wider NT community.

Professor Dennett is the author of many books, including Breaking the Spell (Viking, 2006), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Simon & Schuster, 1995), and most recently From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (Norton, 2017), and the recipient of numerous awards including two Fulbright Fellowships, two Guggenheim Fellowships and five honorary doctorates.  He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987 and was awarded the Erasmus Prize, the Netherlands’ highest academic honour, presented by Queen Beatrice in Amsterdam in 2012. More information about Daniel Dennett can be found at http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/cv.html .

While at CDU Professor Dennett will deliver the public 2018 Charles Darwin Oration titled

From Bacteria to Bach: Charles Darwin’s Vision Extended

Download the "From Bacteria to Bach Oration" flyer.

ABSTRACT

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was, according to one critic, a “strange inversion of reasoning,” and today we can see the same inversion playing out in other realms: in technology, and in the understanding of our own minds, which are the product of two parallel evolutionary processes, genetic and cultural.

Professor Dennett’s 2017 book From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, explores the origin of human consciousness from a materialist theory of mind, arguing that consciousness is no more mysterious than gravity and that natural systems can create “competence without comprehension”.

 

CHARLES DARWIN ORATION – CDU CASUARINA CAMPUS

5.30 – 7.30pm, Thursday 13 September 2018

University Theatre, Building Orange 3, Casuarina Campus, Charles Darwin University

RSVP: Friday 7 September 2018

E: cduevents@cdu.edu.au; T: 08 8946 6554

 

ALICE SPRINGS CAMPUS

5.30 – 7.30pm, Thursday 20 September 2018

Lecture Theatre Building 15.1.01, Alice Springs Campus, Charles Darwin University

RSVP: Friday 14 September 2018

E: cduevents@cdu.edu.au; T: 08 8946 6554

Professor Dennett will also be the keynote speaker at an international philosophy conference, Evolving Minds: Integrating Philosophy, Science and the Arts to be held at CDU 17 – 19 September.

During his stay Prof Dennett will be available to meet with University staff and students.

Professor Dennett’s visit to CDU is being supported by a Fulbright Specialist Grant.

For further information on Professor Dennett’s visit to CDU please contact Maryanne McKaige on 89466585 or maryanne.mckaige@cdu.edu.au

Peter and Rosemary GrantEmeritus Professors Peter and Rosemary Grant from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, New Jersey, are the 2016 Charles Darwin Scholars.

After lifelong careers working together in the field of evolutionary biology, including nearly 40 years studying ‘Darwin’s Finches’ on the Galapagos Islands, husband and wife team Peter and Rosemary Grant are something of icons in the field of evolutionary biology.

Their work is known internationally for its demonstration of rapid evolution in response to changes in food supply and their elucidation of the mechanisms by which new species arise and genetic diversity is maintained in populations. Charles Darwin viewed evolution as a process so slow that changes would be observed over near-geologic timescales. The Grants’ research is remarkable in that it has shown that evolution can be observed within a lifetime and has been demonstrated on the very species that were so instrumental in inspiring Charles Darwin’s ideas about natural selection. As Darwin wrote in 1845; Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.

The Grants' contributions to evolutionary biology have garnered them many laurels, notable among which is the 1998 E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award and the 2002 Darwin Medal from the Royal Society of London for accomplishments in evolutionary biology. In 2008 they were recipients of the Darwin-Wallace Medal, which is bestowed every 50 years by the Linnean Society of London and in 2009 they were recipients of the annual Kyoto Prize in basic sciences, an international award honouring significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind.

The Grants' work has also lent the narrative spine to 'The Beak of the Finch', a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of their adventures in the archipelago written by the journalist Jonathan Weiner.

Professors Peter and Rosemary Grant visited CDU in June 2016 and were based at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods. While at CDU they delivered the Charles Darwin Oration (PDF 234KB) and were involved in a rerun of the 'Charles Darwin, Evolution and Tropical Australia' MOOC, as well as a range of other activities.



Galapagos finchesThe 2016 Charles Darwin Scholars, Emeritus Professors Rosemary and Peter Grant, gave the 2016 Charles Darwin Oration 'Evolution in Action: Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Finches' at CDU campuses in Darwin and Alice Springs in June 2016.

The Oration drew on the Grants' more than 40 years of work on the Galapagos Islands and demonstrated that evolution can be observed within a human lifetime.

 

Go to YouTube to watch the video of the 2016 Charles Darwin Oration.

More information: 2016 Charles Darwin Oration flyer (PDF 234KB).

Read the 2016 Charles Darwin Oration transcript (PDF 379KB).

2014 Charles Darwin Scholar – Professor Janet Browne

Janet Browne

The Inaugural Charles Darwin Scholar, Professor Janet Browne, was appointed in 2014. Professor Browne is one of the world’s leading scholars of Charles Darwin. She is Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, and is widely known for her work on the history of 19th century biology with a specialisation in re-evaluating the life, times and work of Charles Darwin. Her interests also range widely over the history of the life sciences and natural history and she is greatly interested in the history of animal and plant collecting, old museums, voyages of exploration, garden history, and the science and religion controversies.

Among her many achievements, Professor Browne has won critical acclaim for her two-volume biography of Darwin, Charles Darwin: Voyaging (1995) and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (2002), described by reviewers as “monumental” and “definitive”. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, the James Tait Black award for non-fiction in 2004 and  the Pfizer Prize for Biography from the British History of Science Society, and the Royal Society of Literature Prize.

Professor Browne spent most of July 2014 at Charles Darwin University’s Casuarina and Alice Springs Campuses, where she was engaged in a wide variety of activities including the launch of the Beagle Library online, webinars and material for CDU’s MOOC Charles Darwin, Evolution and Tropical Australia, talks to staff, students and the community and most importantly, delivery of the Charles Darwin Oration (pdf 324KB) on Charles Darwin: His Life in Public and Private at Parliament House Darwin on July 16, 2014, and at CDU Alice Springs on July 24, 2014.