Saturday, March 21, 2009

Darwin at the University of Chicago's Basic Program Retreat

The Basic Program in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago is a "great books" program that was originally established by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler in 1946. When I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I taught in the Basic Program for four years (1974-1978).

Twice a year, the Basic Program has a Weekend Study Retreat at the Illinois Beach Resort in Zion, Illinois. This is organized around a particular theme and set of related readings. This year's spring weekend (May 1-3)will be devoted to Charles Darwin to commemorate the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. The assigned readings will be from the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man.

I will be giving the Friday night lecture, speaking on "Does Darwin Support or Subvert Morality?"

On Saturday, Michaelangelo Alloca will speak on "More Fun than a Barrel of Monkey Trials: Darwin's Complex Relationship with Religion," and John Melsheimer will speak on "What Does 'Species' Mean in the Origin of Species." On Sunday morning, George Anastaplo will speak on "On the Suggestive Origins of Darwin and Lincoln." Each lecture will be followed by small-group discussions.

Saturday night will be devoted to a delightful cabaret performance by Richard Milner--"Charles Darwin: Live and In Concert." Milner is an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History who specializes in the study of evolution and the life of Darwin. His one-man musical on Darwin's life has been performed around the world.

This should all be great fun.

Information about the program and how to register can be found at the Basic Program's website. More information about Milner's performance can be found at his website.

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