Darwin 200 in St Andrews

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Remarkable connections between the University of St Andrews and Charles Darwin will be made public next week.

Correspondence from the University’s Special Collections will be displayed alongside images of plant specimens collected during the Voyage of the Beagle.

The exhibition forms the centrepiece of a series of events at the University of St Andrews to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

The collection includes a letter sent by Charles Darwin in October 1844 to James David Forbes (1809 – 1868), an eminent Scottish scientist in the field of glaciology.

From 1859, Forbes was Principal of the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard at the University of St Andrews.

In the letter Darwin tells Forbes of his observations of parallel lines and the effects of glacial ice, and offers to send him specimens of Mexican obsidian.

Academics from across the University will gather for a series of lectures on “Darwin Day” to celebrate the bicentennial of Charles Darwin and 150 years of “On the Origin of Species”, one of the most influential books of the 19th Century.

“On the track of the Beagle”, one of the highlights of the event, will be given by leading maritime historian Dr Robert Prescott.

Dr Prescott will detail his exploration to discover the final resting place of the ship aboard which Charles Darwin began to formulate his influential theory of evolution.

Organiser, Valentina Islas, said, “This event from St Andrews brings together some of the greatest minds in the University to celebrate and appropriately honour one of Britain’s best known and respected scientists.

“We wish to mark this occasion by showing the general public and a new generation of students across academic disciplines how Darwin’s ideas remain central to contemporary research, within and beyond the biological sciences.”

Researchers from the Schools of Biology, Psychology, Divinity, Philosophy, Mathematics and History will join together to discuss the relationships between Darwin’s ideas and their own investigations in this wide range of subject areas.

The series of short lectures on February 12th will emphasise how Darwin’s ideas continue to play an important part in contemporary research.

Visiting speaker, Dr John van Wyhe, Director of The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, will travel from the University of Cambridge to open proceedings on Monday, February 9th, looking at why Darwin waited 20 years before publishing his theory.

Other events include the screening of the classic 1960 film “Inherit the Wind” at the New Picture House Cinema in North Street on Tuesday, February 10th.  The film is a fictionalised account of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial, which resulted in John T. Scopes’ conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee state law that prohibited the teaching of anything besides creationism.

For further details on all of the events in Darwin week please visit: http://darwin.st-andrews.ac.uk/



Valentina Islas is available for interview on Tel: 01334 463371 or E-mail: [email protected]
Amy Deacon is available for interview on Tel: 01334 463465 or E-mail: [email protected]

The exhibition “Charles Darwin and his links to St Andrews” is free and will be held in The Bute Building (Access through Door C).

It will be open to members of staff and students all week, and to the general public Monday 9th February: 6-7pm, Thursday 12th February: 9am-6pm.  It will be displayed again for the general public on Saturday 14th March in The Bell Pettigrew Museum during National Science Week: 12-5pm.



The image of Charles Darwin, 1878, is courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, [rCT782.C7-vol3-36].

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 467227, Mobile: 07730 415 015 or Email: [email protected]
Ref:  Darwin 04/02/09
View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

Category University news

Related topics

Share this story