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Lectures, performances planned to celebrate Year of Science

by Karen A. Grava - September 15, 2008


UConn will celebrate the Year of Science 2009 with lectures, workshops, performances, and exhibits to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his publication of On the Origin of Species.

Year of Science: 2009

The year 2009 is also the 400th anniversary of Johannes Kepler’s publication of the first two laws of planetary motion, and the 400th anniversary of the first telescope made by Galileo.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and more than 185 professional societies, colleges and universities, museums, and corporations also are expected to participate in Year of Science 2009, a national, year-long celebration of science.

Planned activities are intended to engage the public in science and to improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science.

UConn was the first university in the nation in 2007 to join the Year of Science effort and has planned a number of activities to celebrate the year and provide science information to the University community and the public at large.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to use these important anniversaries to educate people about science, both through lectures on scientific topics and through the arts,” says Kent Holsinger, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

“We would like to improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science, and highlight the historic contributions that many scientists including Darwin, Galileo, and Kepler have made to advance our society.”

Some of the activities planned during the year will include:

  • Darwin Bicentennial, a series of nine afternoon lectures, featuring on Sept. 25 Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, the definitive biographer of Darwin; and on Oct. 2, Daniel Dennet, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, among others;
  • a symposium on Jan. 29 with workshops, exhibits, and lectures on science, engineering, and the health professions, which will focus on attracting and supporting the participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in science.
  • an exhibit of medical illustrations at the William Benton Museum of Art from Jan. 20 through March 15;
  • a performance at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 11, 12, and 13 of Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln, a new work being created by Daniel Bernard Roumain. The play was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and commemorates the fact that Darwin and Lincoln shared a birthday: Feb. 12, 1809. Although the two never met, Darwin abhorred slavery and Lincoln was fascinated by the concept of evolution;
  • a performance Feb. 22 at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts of Toying with Science by Garry Krinsky. Developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, the performance combines circus skills, mime, original music, and audience involvement so that children and families will investigate basic scientific information and take a look into the imaginations of scientists who explore our world;
  • production of a play on March 25 at the Health Center and March 26 in Storrs called Manya: A Living History of Marie Curie, presented by performance artist Susan Frontcak. The play will look at Curie’s childhood in Poland, her developing interest in science, and her collaboration with Pierre Curie. It will also examine the political, financial, and medical challenges she faced. Marie Curie discovered radium and radioactivity and recognized that radiation could be used to cure cancer. She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, and received two Nobels (one in physics and the other in chemistry);
  • the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on March 8 and 9, which permits students from Connecticut high schools to display their work, make oral presentations of their work to their peers, and talk with professional scientists and visit UConn research facilities;
  • a day-long program on “Science, Creativity, and the Humanities” in April, sponsored by the UConn Humanities Institute;
  • Science Chautauqua, an adult education program that commemorates an original program offered in the 1920s, when Chautauqua lecturers and performers visited 45 states. UConn’s program will feature four or five evening events in 2009;
  • the Connecticut State Bioblitz in late May or early June, and the Connecticut Environmental Action Day in October;
  • a performance of The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht in fall 2009, at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

A complete list of activities, times, places and dates is available on the web at http://clas.uconn.edu/yearofscience/

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