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University hosts International Darwin Conference

18 August 09

The University of Bradford will be holding an International Darwin Conference as part of a programme of international and national public lecture series.

The International Darwin Conference will take place at the University from Thursday 24 to Saturday 26 September. It will mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species and unusually will bring together speakers from the disciplines of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

The three day event includes key note lectures from a range of distinguished speakers including the 1972 Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine, Professor Gerald Edelman, who will be speaking on 'Neural Darwinism: How Matter Becomes Imagination.'

Other guest speakers include Professor Jonathan Hodge (University of Leeds), delivering a lecture on Darwin's Legacy, Professor Anthony O'Hear (University of Buckingham), on Darwinian Tensions, Professor Denis Walsh (University of Toronto) on Teleology and Evolutionary Biology, and Professor Steve Jones (University College London), who, in additional to his conference lecture on 'Is Human Evolution Over?' will also give a public lecture entitled 'Nature Nurture or Neither: The View from the Genes.'

Conference Organiser and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bradford, Friedel Weinert, said:  "This conference is the opportunity for anyone who has heard about Darwin to discover the unique and profound way, in which his ideas constitute a turning point in the evolution of modern societies."

Bradford Council is also celebrating the links with Darwin and the wider Yorkshire district with a series of events. Darwin stayed in Ilkley for two months after writing 'On the Origin of Species.' From Ilkley he sent out advanced copies of his book, which went on to be published on 24 November 1859.

Members of the public have already had the opportunity to view the themes of Darwin, through art, by the presentation of a giant sand sculpture in Bradford's Centenary Square. Local sculptor Jamie Wardley transformed the square into a 'tree of life' themed garden representing the five plant kingdoms. The theme of Darwin through art will be continued Liverpool artist Chiz Turnoss who will bring his collection of 100 bird paintings, created in one year, to Bradford 1 Gallery Studio.

A fourteen-poem sequence, which begins with Darwin in Ilkley will be read live in Centenary Square and will be broadcast from the BBC Big Screen. The poems, 'Voyage of Ideas' by locally born poet Andrew Mitchell, will be illustrated by Mary Kuper and will also be read at the conference.

Visitors can also view a display case at Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley. The case explains how Darwin came to make the world voyage on HMS Beagle and shows, using local specimens, how his early education in Edinburgh making comparative examination of marine life fired Darwin's imagination.

There will also be opportunities to see what Darwin thought of Ilkley from a facsimile and transcript of a letter he wrote soon after his arrival in Ilkley; these are now displayed at the Manor House in Ilkley. Visitors will have the chance to view other information in this display case, which concentrates on his stay in Ilkley, focusing on the man, his long term ill health and his penchant for eccentric and quack cures.

18 August 09

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Further information for Media Enquirers

For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.