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Darwin's Legacy

By Stanford Continuing Studies Program

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"Light will be thrown..." With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life. Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwin’s birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwin’s far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology. With such a broad reach across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, no wonder the theory of evolution by natural selection has been called “the single best idea, ever.” Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program. Released with a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

Customer Reviews

Informative, Inspiring and Entertaining

First, thanks so much to all involved for making this great series of lectures available. I am enthralled with the series. I encourage others, especially high school students, to watch it. The lectures are delivered with the general public in mind, but expect to be challenged at times. The speakers are eloquent and a joy to listen to. Their love of their subject matter is so evident . In a way, it's like a fan club or convention. They are cheerleaders not only for Darwin, but for contemplative liberal thinking and science education. As much as I have enjoyed being informed of Darwin's genius, I am most impressed with Darwin's industriousness. Darwin can inspire anyone on that level. We are all seeking ways of self-improvement. His was a life dedicated and disciplined to furthering himself and the world. He never became a couch potato, he never "retired". He is a great role model for us all to continue to challenge ourselves our whole life through, to never give up.