STORRS, CT — This year is the 200th anniversary of the shared birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, and the University of Connecticut plans to celebrate it with performances, exhibits, lectures and seminars at Storrs, Waterbury, Groton and Stamford.
2009 also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, and the 400th anniversary of both Johannes Kepler’s publication of the first two laws of planetary motion, and the first telescope made by Galileo.
UConn was the first university in the nation to join a national Year of Science proclaimed by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and more than 185 professional societies, colleges and universities, museums, and corporations.
The year is intended to engage the public in science and improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science. It is being celebrated on several UConn campuses.
“At a time when the challenges facing humanity are growing rapidly, and when meeting those challenges increasingly depends on scientific research, the need for public support and understanding of science has never been greater,” says Kent E. Holsinger, former president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences and a UConn professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “Our focus on events relating to both Darwin and Lincoln is a special way to highlight the year.”
A complete listing of events for the year can be found at http://clas.uconn.edu/yearofscience/
But many special events at UConn will focus on Darwin and Lincoln and they include:
- Jan. 20-March 6, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), The Legacy of a Naturalist, an exhibit featuring rare books, prints, natural history specimens, and other artifacts to illustrate the life and career of Charles Darwin. Dodd Center Gallery.
- Tuesday, Feb. 10, “The Legacy of Charles Darwin.” Four speakers, Constance Clark, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Michael Robinson, University of Hartford; Les Kaufman, Boston University; and Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University, will focus on the legacy of Darwin’s many contributions to science and society. 6:30 p.m., Branford House, first floor, Avery Point Campus.
- Tuesday, Feb. 10, David Contosta, writer and historian, will discus his book Rebel Giants: The Revolutionary Lives of Lincoln and Darwin, as a prelude to the performance of Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln at Jorgensen. 4 p.m., Jorgensen Gallery.
- Thursday, Feb. 12, “President Lincoln’s Text Message: The Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.” Forty days before he was murdered President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, a speech widely recognized as not only the best ever given by a U.S. President also a classic of American rhetoric. To understand the meaning of Lincoln’s words, the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute will sponsor a symposium in which this 700-word oration will be interpreted by scholars. Hartford poet Nicole Miller will read the address, and professors Harry Stout of Yale University, and John Stauffer of Harvard University will lead a panel discussion by UConn professors Christopher Clark (history), Wayne Franklin (English and American Studies), Lawrence Goodheart (history), Shayla Nunnally (political science and the Institute for African American Studies), and Jeffrey Ogbar (history and the Institute for African American Studies). 3 p.m. Great Hall, Alumni Center.
- Thursday, Feb. 12, Darwin's Meditation for the People of Lincoln. This multimedia presentation is a musical examination of the literal and imagined relationship between Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln – who were born within hours of one another on the same day – and the people of the United States born after the end of the Civil War. Using video and text drawn from both Darwin and Lincoln, compiled and narrated by actor/playwright Daniel Beaty, Haitian-American artist Daniel Bernard Roumain produces an imagined conversation between historical giants. The work features a 20-piece chamber ensemble together with four soloists – Roumain on violin, Wynne Bennett on piano, Emeline Michel, vocalist, and Beaty, actor. 8 p.m., Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts (tickets $28 and $30). There will also be an open public rehearsal at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 and a post-performance Q & A.
- Thursday, Feb. 19, Darwin Day at the Stamford Campus will feature performances about the life of Darwin by the Guild Players at noon and 7 p.m. in GenRe Auditorium.
- Wednesday, Feb. 25, Charles Darwin Bicentennial Colloquium Series. “Evolution and Faith: What is at Stake?” by John Haught, Georgetown University. 4 p.m., Dodd Center, Konover Auditorium.
- Fridays, March 20 and 27, April 3 and 17, “Lincoln: the Man and the Myth.” Four class sessions will discuss Lincoln and the issues of race relations, along with the many misconceptions about Lincoln and why historians consider him the greatest American president. The class will be taught by Steve McGrath, a lecturer in history at Central Connecticut State University and Master Teacher for the Charter Oak Collaborative in Hartford. 8:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m., Room 207, Waterbury Campus.