About the Theme Semester

“The concept of biological evolution is one of the most important ideas ever
generated by the application of scientific methods to the natural world.”

- Bruce Alberts, National Academy of Sciences, 1999

Evolutionary theory is a core concept that frames entire fields of inquiry and informs countless insights and discoveries in a wide range of disciplines, from biology and paleontology to psychology and philosophy.

The Winter 2006 LSA Theme Semester, Explore Evolution, will tap the rich intellectual and educational resources of LSA and other University of Michigan units to engage the campus and Ann Arbor area communities in an exploration of the basic concepts of biological evolution, as well as cutting-edge research in the field. Semester activities will also explore the insights gained when evolutionary concepts are used in the social sciences and as a metaphor in the arts and humanities. The theme semester is timed to coincide with the installation at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History of a National Science Foundation-funded museum exhibit, “Explore Evolution,” that will highlight the current research of seven evolutionary scientists, including U-M paleontologist Philip Gingerich.


The purpose of the theme semester is to engage the curious, fascinate the interested, and challenge faculty and students with cutting-edge issues in evolutionary science. The goals for the theme semester include:

  • Exploring the history, implications, and relevance of evolutionary theory
  • Communicating current research in evolutionary science and related disciplines
  • Inviting the general public to gain a new and deeper understanding of evolution

Highlights include:

  • A public Distinguished Speaker Series, with related seminars for academic audiences, and informal contacts with students
  • Saturday Morning Physics lectures by U-M faculty on basic concepts and current research in evolutionary science
  • An interdisciplinary symposium on current scientific thinking about the origins of the universe and of life
  • A free public film series, with faculty respondents
  • An Evolution and Culture Colloquium Series
  • Workshops for undergraduates on evolution and the nature of science
  • Workshops for K-12 teachers on teaching evolution
  • Young Faculty Symposium on evolutionary biology
  • A self-guided “Walk Through Plant Evolution” at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens
  • Art exhibitions at the Institute for the Humanities and School of Art + Design Work galleries
  • Programming associated with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program on the theme of “Revolutions in Science” and the book The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner

Website Acknowledgements

Statement on Evolution




Steering Committee


Student Organizations

For the Media


Calendar of Events

About the Theme

For the Media