A tribute to the power of observation

Charles Darwin

When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, the way we view the world and our place in it changed with the turn of a page.

Throughout 2009, Southern Methodist University celebrated the 150th anniversary of this seminal book and the 200th birthday of the extraordinary man who wrote it through a series of lectures, exhibits and presentations. Videos of most of the lectures are available online.

The theme for the year-long observance was “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy: Celebrating Ideas That Shape Our World.”

“It’s hard to imagine any branch of science that has not been advanced by Charles Darwin's work," said Paul Ludden , SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "As the evolution of SMU continues into its second century, it was fitting to recognize the intellectual achievement found in Darwin’s writings.”

The impact of the year-long observance was impressive, said Pia Vogel, associate professor of biology and one of the principal organizers of the observance.

"We touched SMU students, as well as high school students and their teachers, with the series. The students and teachers, as well as many other off-campus guests told us again and again how much they appreciated the quality of the speakers," Vogel said. "It was impressive and gratifying to see so many people from different disciplines here at SMU excited about the events and contributing to the effort."

Darwin’s theory of evolution is the foundation for all the sciences dealing with organic life and relevant to studying nearly every aspect of the human condition – from contemporary human behavior to genetic diversity in food crops to the treatment of diseases.

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