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An Open Letter from Dr. Michael A. Mares, Museum Director
Regarding the screening of the film “Darwin’s Dilemma”
by the OU IDEA Club in the museum’s Kerr Auditorium


Dr. Michael A. Mares, SNOMNH DirectorThe Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is dedicated to science and to elucidating the remarkable evolutionary history of life on Earth. The museum actively engages in public programs, undergraduate and graduate education, outreach education, and other efforts to increase the scientific literacy of visitors to the museum and the people of Oklahoma.

Although the museum does not support unscientific views masquerading as science, such as those espoused by the Discovery Institute, the museum does respect the religious beliefs of all people. Moreover, the museum is obligated to rent its public space to any organization that is engaged in lawful activities, free speech and open discourse. The museum does not discriminate against recognized campus organizations based on their religious beliefs, political philosophy, scientific literacy, or any other factors.

We invite everyone interested in an accurate description of how life developed over the last four billion years to visit our galleries. The well-organized and scientifically accurate exhibits illustrate – through real specimens and scientific methods – the fact of evolution by natural selection as first described by Charles Darwin and continually supported by all branches of science ever since that time. The museum also recommends that people interested in evolutionary science review the more than 1,000 publications by our curators and professional staff that are based in evolutionary biology.

The museum's many galleries will be open for free before and after the showing of the Discovery Institute’s film “Darwin’s Dilemma” on Sept. 29 so the public can see that there is no scientific controversy in evolutionary science's explanation of the development and history of Earth's biodiversity.

This calendar year – the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species – the museum, in partnership with OU departments of Zoology, the Department of Botany and Microbiology, the Department of Anthropology, and the History of Science and History of Science Collections of the OU Library, has presented more than 15 public education programs related to evolution, with many more on the calendar ahead. We encourage the public to take part in these programs, many of which are free, to educate themselves about the true nature of the science of evolutionary biology.

EVOLUTION PROGRAMS HELD AT THE MUSEUM SO FAR THIS YEAR:
Many of these are available as podcasts: More information on downloading these presentations

01/22 –Ken Taylor, professor emeritus, OU History of Science, "Volcanology before Darwin: From burning mountains to Igneous Global Dynamics" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

02/03 –Paul White, Darwin Correspondence Project, Affiliated Scholar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, "Darwin's Emotions" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

02/12 –John Lynch, "Was There a Darwinian Revolution?" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

02/13 – “Darwin Across the Disciplines,” Darwin Panel Discussion Part of Darwin 2009 events

02/19 – Pam Soltis, Curator, Florida Museum of Natural History, “Darwin's 'Abominable Mystery'
Part of the Sutton Lecture Series sponsored by the OU Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program

02/26 –Michael Ruse, T. Werkmeister Professor, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, "Is Darwinism Past Its 'Sell-By' Date?" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

03/12 – John Beatty, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, "The Details Left to Chance: Evolutionary Contingency and its Broader Implications in the Work of Charles Darwin and Stephen Jay Gould” In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

03/24 – ANTS: Nature’s Secret Power (Movie), Part of the Sutton Lecture Series sponsored by the Sutton Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program, Department of Zoology and Department of Botany and Microbiology

03/26 –Bert Holldobler, Foundation Professor, Arizona State University, “Order in Chaos: Communication and Cooperation in Ant Societies," Part of the Sutton Lecture Series sponsored by the Sutton Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program, Department of Zoology and Department of Botany and Microbiology

04/07 – Anne Magurran, University of St. Andrews, “Little Fish and Big Issues: Guppies and Biological Diversity,” Part of the Sutton Lecture Series sponsored by the Sutton Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program, Department of Zoology and Department of Botany and Microbiology

04/09 – John van Wyhe, University of Cambridge & Darwin Online Project, "Darwin's Secret? Was the theory of evolution really held back for twenty years?" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

04/16 – Garland E. Allen, Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, "Darwin and Marx: Science as History and History as Science. Dialectical materialism and the dynamics of historical change" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

04/21 – Joe Cain, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, "A Monkey's Uncle: The 1925 Scopes Trial wasn't what you think!" In partnership with the History of Science Department Presidential Dream Course

08/27 – Stephen Weldon, University of Oklahoma History of Science department, “Hopes, Fears, and Discontent in America: Four Decades of Anti-Evolutionism and Anti-Creationism” In partnership with the History of Science Department

09/08 – Piers Hale, OU History of Science Dept., “Difficulties on Theory,” In Discussion with Darwin Seminar series

09/15 – Lynn Fowler, Charles Darwin Foundation & Lindblad Expedition, “Charles Darwin: Exploring Galapagos and the Charles Darwin Foundation Today” In partnership with the History of Science Department

 

UPCOMING EVOLUTION PROGRAMS:
Full listing of museum programs

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.
In Discussion with Darwin: Classroom seminars on Evolution
Rich Broughton (Department of Zoology)
"Has Macroevolution Been Misunderestimated?"

This seminar discussion will focus on the lack of a fundamental difference between micro- and macroevolution (as the terms are commonly used). It will use molecular data to examine the basis of taxonomic groups and explore examples of evolutionary divergence in nature.
Cost: $10 per seminar members, $15 per seminar non-members

Friday Oct. 2, 7 to 8:30 p.m., and
Saturday, Oct. 3, 9 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m.
Adult Workshop: Invertebrate Fossil Dig Field Trip

Join invertebrate paleontology curator Dr. Steve Westrop and museum staff for an exciting journey into Oklahoma’s Paleozoic past. Explore life in Oklahoma’s ancient oceans through an informative talk on Friday evening with a close-up look at some of the museum’s finest invertebrate specimens. On Saturday morning, we will meet at the museum at 9 a.m. and travel in university vans to the dig site where you will find a variety of marine fossils. Bring a sack lunch, snacks, comfortable shoes and plenty of water for this field trip. Advance registration is required and space is limited. This field trip is for adults only.
Cost: members $55 per person, non-members $65 per person

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.
In Discussion with Darwin: Classroom seminars on Evolution
Phil Gibson (Department of Botany and Microbiology, Dept. of Zoology)
“Darwin’s Different Flowers”

While Darwin receives much attention for his work on animals, he was equally influential in the botanical world. This seminar will discuss Darwin’s book On the Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species in which he applies his model of evolution by natural selection to investigate why some plants produce two or more types of flowers.
Cost: $10 per seminar members, $15 per seminar non-members

Darwin at the Museum
Oct. 10 through Jan. 18, 2010

This special exhibition at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, in partnership with the University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, features a complete set of first-editions of Darwin’s works, and sheds light on the man not only as the founder of evolution, but also as a global traveler, a geologist, botanist and thinker. Finally, the exhibition showcases how Darwin’s groundbreaking ideas continue to inspire the work of the scientists at the museum today. In addition to the books themselves, the exhibition features maps and illustrations, hand-written manuscripts and letters by Darwin himself, and specimens from museum collections relating both to Darwin’s studies and to the research of current museum scientists.

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.
Krishna Dronamraju
"J.B.S. Haldane and the Making of Darwinian Genetics "

Free public lecture
J. B. S. Haldane (1892-64) was one of the great scientists--and great science writers--of the 20th century. A central figure in the development of modern evolutionary biology, he was also a highly skilled essayist and an extraordinary, if controversial, character.

Krishna Dronamraju was Haldane’s last graduate student. Dronamraju is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and President of the Foundation for Genetic Research in Houston. He was an Advisor to the White House and served on the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Prof. Dronamraju is a Visiting Professor of the University of Paris, the Albert Schweitzer International University of Geneva, and an Honorary Research Fellow of University College, London. Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma History of Science department and the museum.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Explore with Darwin Family Day

Join us for an exciting adventure as we celebrate the discoveries of Charles Darwin! Children's book authors Carolyn Meyer and Anne Weaver, both authors of books about Darwin and his travels, will be reading selections from their books and signing books! Visit the Darwin at the Museum exhibit, featuring first editions of all of Darwin’s books and some of his letters. Then take a journey of your own as you explore the museum, and imagine what it might be like to discover new places. Complete your adventure with a fun Darwin-inspired craft to take home!
Activities are free with paid museum admission.

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
In Discussion with Darwin: Classroom seminars on Evolution
Cecil Lewis (Department of Anthropology)
"Race and Genetics in Health"

Are traditionally identified human "races" biologically meaningful? Are racial classifications useful in genetic disease research? This seminar discussion will address these questions. The practical importance of human evolution studies will be illuminated.
Cost: $10 per seminar members, $15 per seminar non-members

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
In Discussion with Darwin: Classroom seminars on Evolution
Ingo Schlupp (Department of Zoology)
“The Origin of Sexual Selection”

Why do males often have elaborate traits that make them attractive for females, but are detrimental to survival? Why are females typically coy and males competitive for females? Charles Darwin proposed the theory of sexual selection as an answer to these questions. In our meeting we shall discuss this idea, its history and some aspects of modern research on this topic.
Cost: $10 per seminar members, $15 per seminar non-members

Thursday, Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., Great Hall
History of Science Colloquium Series
Janet Browne, (History of Science, Harvard University)

Free public lecture
Janet Browne specializes in reassessing Charles Darwin’s work, first as associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and more recently as author of a major biographical study that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times. The biography was awarded several prizes, including the James Tait Black award for non-fiction in 2004, the W.H. Heinemann Prize from the Royal Literary Society, and the Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society. She has been editor of the British Journal for the History of Science and president of the British Society for the History of Science.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.
"Deceit and Self-Deception"
Robert Trivers, Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Free Public Lecture
Trivers is perhaps the most significant evolutionary theorist in the world alive today, and has spent his career investigating the theoretical basis of social behavior in organisms. His theories regarding parental investment, reciprocal altruism, parent-offspring conflict and the biological basis of self-deceptive behavior have been hugely influential in a number of fields. In 2007 Trivers received the prestigious Crafoord Prize from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. This prize promotes international basic research in disciplines that complement those for which the Nobel Prizes are awarded. The lecture is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Zoology Department and the museum. It is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
In Discussion with Darwin: Classroom seminars on Evolution
Ola Fincke (Department of Zoology)
"Beyond Darwin: How Evo-Devo Research Offers Stunning Confirmation of Darwin's View of Complexity "

Darwin postulated that complexity evolved via natural selection from less complex parts. Armed with a battery of new genetic tools, researchers are in the process of confirming that Darwin's view was of complexity was basically correct. In this session we will discuss the radical and surprising insights that “Evo-Devo” research offers for macroevolution.
Cost: $10 per seminar members, $15 per seminar non-members

Friday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m.
"Darwin Remembers: Recollections of a Life’s Journey
"

Free public event
A historic play written and performed by Floyd Sandford. Much of the information was derived from Darwin's autobiography, edited and published shortly after his death by his son Francis. In the play, Darwin "remembers" his life, including the historic confrontation at Oxford in 1860, between Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford and the biologist Thomas H. Huxley, Darwin's most loyal and vociferous defender in public forum and debates.

 

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