*Freshman Seminar 24p. Getting to Know Charles Darwin

Do you think you know who Charles Darwin was?  The legend and sober-looking bearded scholar behind the most important paradigm shift in human history?  In this seminar, we will read a selection of Darwin's publications (including parts of Darwin's seminal work, On the Origin of Species), as well as his private correspondence, paying close attention to the man behind the science as revealed by his writings.  We will get to know Charles Darwin—the avid breeder of pigeons, lover of barnacles, devoted father and husband, gifted correspondent and tactician, and remarkable backyard scientist.  In this latter vein, we will reproduce ten of Charles Darwin's classic Down House experiments that were central to making his case for natural selection and evolution in On the Origin of Species, as well as his many other books on natural history.  Field trips to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and a local pigeon fancier will provide the setting for recreating a selection of the myriad observations of organisms and their interactions with the environment and each other that made Darwin the master of minutia and provided the foundation for his grand synthesis of evolutionary pattern and process.  Each week, we will also read, react to (through writing), and discuss Darwin’s published writings and letters.
Note: Open to Freshmen only. Required field trips to Arnold Arboretum, Museum of Comparative Zoology, and a pigeon fancier are included. Transportation will be provided. 







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Freshman Seminars

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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2017-2018 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

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