BGSU conference to look at evolution and behavior

Since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, scientists have extended his ground-breaking ideas in an effort to explain animal and human development. Evolution has advanced from accounts of our origins to attempted explanations of our distinctively human capacities and behaviors, such as language use and courting practices. Evolutionary insights are also being applied to contemporary problems like conflict and disease. An upcoming conference at BGSU will focus on these new areas of evolutionary thought. “Darwin’s Heirs: Evolution, Behavior, and Societies” will be held Nov. 15 and 16 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. All sessions are free and open to the public; no registration is required.

The conference begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in 207 Union with a keynote address by Dr. Richard Alexander of the University of Michigan, one of the foremost experts on the evolution of social behavior in insects and mammals. His talk is titled “Darwin’s Challenges and Their Continuing Usefulness,” and will be followed by a reception at 9 p.m.

Dr. Bobbi Low will give the first talk on Nov. 16, from 10-11 a.m. in 206 Union, where the remaining sessions of the conference will be held. A professor of evolutionary and behavioral ecology at the University of Michigan, her topic is “Women’s Lives Today: Surprising Ecological Underpinnings.” Dr. Paul Ewald, a professor of biology and director of the Program on Disease Evolution at the University of Louisville, follows from 11 a.m. to noon, speaking on “Breast Cancer and Birth Control: A Critical Evaluation of Cherished Hypotheses.” Dr. Peter Richerson, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis, will deliver the final lecture, “Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution,” from 1:30-2:30 p.m. 

All the speakers will then participate in a panel discussion and entertain questions from the audience from 2:30-3:30 p.m. This session will be moderated by Dr. Michael Bradie, philosophy, who is an expert in the philosophy of biology.  

The conference is sponsored by BGSU’s Social Philosophy and Policy Center; the departments of biological sciences, philosophy, economics and psychology; the J.P. Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind, and Behavior; Sigma Xi; BG Experience; the Graduate College, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

November 5, 2007