Darwin, Evolution Celebrated at UT (if not at the Legislature)

An emailer thought it interesting that the University of Tennessee is hosting a three-day celebration of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution while the Legislature has pending legislation that some have criticized as an attack on evolution.
The bill (HB368) passed the House last year under sponsorship of Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, but the Senate sponsor, Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, parked it in a “general subcommittee” and never sought a vote after UT Chattanooga faculty members voiced concerns. (Last session’s final post on the subject is HERE).
Watson said a few days ago that he’s still thinking about whether to push the measure this year and, if so, whether amendments may be in order. As passed the House, the measure would prohibit punishment of teachers who discuss alternatives to prevailing scientific theories. Critics labeled it a backdoor means of promoting creationism. Dunn said it simply promotes “critical thinking.”
Meanwhile, the UT News Service news release on celebrating Darwin this week is below. A full schedule of events is available HERE. (Note: One of the videos available for watching is entitled, Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus.

News release from UT News Bureau:
KNOXVILLE–Charles Darwin, the biologist who changed the way scientists study life on Earth, was born 202 years ago but he maintains a steady presence in biology. Just ahead of his birthday, his life and breakthrough discoveries in evolution will be celebrated February 7-9, on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus.
Darwin Day is a three-day event which includes a teacher’s workshop, film screenings, a T-shirt design contest, information booth, and several talks and lectures.
“The goal of Darwin Day is to promote the understanding of evolution and its importance as a unifying concept in biology,” said ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student and Darwin Day 2012 coordinator Jessica Welch. “To do this, we sponsor many different events in the hopes that there will be a little something for everyone.”
UT alumni and world-renowned evolutionary biologists Rosemary Gillespie from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harry Greene from Cornell University will deliver keynote addresses at 7:00 p.m. on February 8 and 9. The careers of both scientists revolve around Darwin’s central concept of evolution by natural selection, and they will talk about its importance to their research.
“Darwin Day has become an expected and anticipated set of events here at UT that students and the public can rely for provocative lectures and informative workshops concerning evolution,” said Andrew Kramer, professor and head of UT’s anthropology department.
The event is sponsored by Darwin Day Tennessee, a Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology group. The group and the February celebration debuted in 1997, making it the longest-running Darwin Day event in the U.S. It joins other Darwin Day groups across the country to promote the importance of the concept of evolution

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