Fall 2008

SCIE 639
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: The Science of Natural Selection

Kirby,Michael Xavier

09/08/2008 - 12/12/2008
Tuesday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 421

The theory of natural selection is one of the most elegantly simple, yet most profound, ideas ever conceived. With it, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace found a mechanism that could explain the fact of evolution. For from this simple idea springs forth an explanation for all of the amazing diversity of life that we see on the planet Earth. Why is natural selection such a profound idea? And why is it so dangerous that many in our society find it difficult to accept? In this course, we will examine the science and history behind the theory of natural selection and its broader implications. We will particularly examine the fossil evidence (i.e., paleontology) for (and against) natural selection as the causative agent for evolution.

Readings and sources for the course include Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea; Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is; and selected articles from the primary scientific literature.

In this course, you will be asked to complete three reports. These reports will be along the lines of essays, where you will conceptualize and integrate the topics discussed in class. All observations, inferences, and positions presented in these reports should be supported by references drawn from the primary literature.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Michael Xavier Kirby (B.S., M.S., California State University; Ph.D., University of California) is paleontological field manager at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Click here for more information about Michael Xavier Kirby.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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