Lecture series at the Commons to examine 'Evolution and Human Affairs'

Few ideas spark as much interest in academia and society as evolution, a topic explored through the sciences, humanities and numerous other disciplines for decades. The spring 2011 University Honors Program Lecture Series at the Commons will put a multidisciplinary lens on the topic “Evolution and Human Affairs.” All lectures associated with the series are free and open to the public.

The lecture series is designed to explore a topic with relevance to current society in a multidisciplinary academic environment. It is sponsored by the University Honors Program and the Commons, a partnership between KU’s Biodiversity Institute, Hall Center for the Humanities and Spencer Museum of Art.

The lectures will enhance the spring 2011 Commons Course, Evolution and Human Affairs, taught by Patricia Hawley, associate professor of psychology. The goal of the course is to provide an introductory “evolutionary lens” through which to explore the natural and social sciences, such as biology, psychology and anthropology; arts, such as music, film and visual media; and humanities, such as literature, philosophy and religious studies. The class will feature guest speakers from the KU faculty whose talks will help students understand how the concept of evolution has affected scholarship and research across the academic spectrum.

The University Honors Program offers a new Commons Course each spring. The course and lecture series were designed to encourage collaboration among departments across the university and thinking outside the realm of singular disciplines. Speakers for the series are selected from proposals submitted by KU faculty and staff.

The lectures will take place at 8 p.m. at the Commons in Spooner Hall.

• Feb. 17 — Shaun Nichols, professor of philosophy, University of Arizona: "Biology and Culture in the Evolution of Morality"

• March 28 — Debra Hawhee, professor of English, Pennsylvania State University: "Evolution and Human Affairs: Kenneth Burke and Gesture-Speech Therapy"

• April 20 — David Barash, professor of psychology, University of Washington: "Payback: Why We Retaliate, Seek Revenge and Redirect Aggression… and What We Can Do About It." Barash’s talk is also the 2010-11 Peace and Conflict Studies Lecture.

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Susan Mercer, associate director, Institute for Policy and Social Research
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