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Charles Darwin: reluctant revolutionary in the Victorian age

by The Open University

This course material is only available in the iTunes U app on iPhone or iPad.

Course Description

Victorian scientist Charles Darwin was the first person to publish a book on the idea of evolution by natural selection. His name has entered the English language. For some people ‘Darwinian Evolution’ describes a scientific process of natural selection; for others it represents a travesty of their own personal religious beliefs. Either way Darwin has left an indelible mark on human history.

So who was this man? How did this shy, privately rich and independent amateur naturalist, who lived quietly in the English countryside, come to write the controversial book ‘On the Origin of Species’?

This learning pathway introduces the man behind the science. It considers how Darwin’s family life, religion, and the stimulating times in which he lived influenced his revolutionary scientific work.

The pathway also covers Darwin’s ground-breaking theories, and offers insights from historians and Darwin’s great great granddaughter about his upbringing and his relationship with his wife.

It explains how his ideas were so highly controversial that he kept them private for nearly 20 years, caught as he was between the Victorian growth of scientific enquiry and the powerful Establishment Church of England.

Finally, it touches on how and why Darwin’s ideas are still important more than 150 years after they were first published.
Charles Darwin: reluctant revolutionary in the Victorian age
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