Children of Time: Putting Darwinism to Work in a Time of Existential Threat to Humanity

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ARRTI is excited to host Dr. Daniel Brooks, University of Toronto Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Fellow in the Manter Parasitology Lab at the University of Nebraska as he presents Children of Time: Putting Darwinism to Work in a Time of Existential Threat to Humanity.

Monday, December 21, 2020 at 2 p.m.
Join us on Zoom:

The ARRTI Speaker Series is funded by the RNA Society and Lexogen.

Evolutionary biology is in conceptual disarray - never have we had more information and less integration. The consensus framework that dominated the 20th century jettisoned critical elements of Darwinism, thereby failing to anticipate the evolutionary implications of global climate change or offer effective solutions. Evolution has been the only process to regenerate the biosphere following a mass extinction event, and evolution has never failed in that regard. Despite this, most policies in conservation biology aim to impose stasis at all costs or return to a static past that never existed. As humanity faces accelerating existential threat, we must expand and enrich evolutionary theory. If we had unlimited time, the next general framework for biological evolution would emerge from the academic wars of attrition that have characterized the sluggish response of a system still showing its monastic origins. But the accelerating pace of climate change demands change. A coherent and effective evolutionary framework is within our grasp, but we need a meta-language to allow cooperation and integration among specialized research programs. We offer three dualistic classes of metaphors – Time, Space, and Conflict Resolution – to facilitate action. The metaphors allow us to recover the useful ideas in Darwinism that neo-Darwinism discarded and use them to remove barriers between specialized areas of research. Evolutionary Transitions comprise the selective diversification of life that Darwin recognized with his metaphor of the Tree of Life. The Stockholm Paradigm is an integrated framework for the emergence of complex ecosystems that Darwin recognized with his metaphor of the Tangled Bank. We finally propose the Evolutionary Commons as a platform for putting evolutionary biology to work, helping humanity cope with climate change.

About the speaker:

Dan Brooks is Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, and Senior Research Fellow of the H.W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology, University of Nebraska State Museum. He received his B.S. with Distinction (1973) and MS (1975) from the University of Nebraska and his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi (1978). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Science) and Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Stockholm University and the University of Nebraska and has been a Visiting Fellow of the Collegium Budapest, the Ciencias sem Fronteras program of Brazil, the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, Stellenbosch, South Africa, the Institute of Advanced Studies, Köszeg, Hungary, and the Hungarian National Center for Ecology. Dan is an evolutionary biologist whose work ranges from field studies of the evolution of host-pathogen systems in tropical wildlands to foundational studies of evolutionary theory. He now focuses his efforts on integrating fundamental evolutionary principles into proactive and effective action plans for coping with the challenges of global climate. The author of nearly 400 scientific articles, Dan is one of the top 200 most cited biologists according to Google Scholar (16,000+ citations; 34 articles cited more than 100 times; H Index 61 (61 articles with at least 61 citations); i10 Index 216 (216 articles with at least 10 citations), and among the top 1% of scholars on Research Gate (TRI 8,000+, 78,000+ reads). In 2019, Dan co-authored The Stockholm Paradigm: Climate Change and Emerging Disease (University of Chicago). His newest book, with Sal Agosta, is The Major Metaphors of Evolution: Darwinism Then and Now (Springer 2020).


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