Now that’s a Darwin celebration

I’m impressed: Appalachian State University is celebrating the Darwin year with a lecture series of stellar quality. Between September and April, they are presenting talks by Eugenie Scott, Jay Hosler, Ken Miller, Janet Browne, Edward Larson, Sean Carroll, Elisabeth Lloyd, Paul Ewald, Jim Costa, and Niles Eldredge (and also John Haught, but then I guess there has to always be one clunker in the works, to maintain the balance of the universe). I’m wishing I could afford to commute to North Carolina every few weeks now.


  1. says

    Boone is a fantastic little college town and right near the Blue Ridge parkway too.

    My old stopping grounds. Might have to make it up there during the “tourist” season for the leaves and a lecture.

  2. Jason Failes says

    As much as people like to dump on the old U-S of-A for its startlingly large population of religious extremists, woo-purveyors, kept media, and wackaloons of all political stripes, America’s large population, in combination with its generous funding for science (at least in generations past), have created ideal conditions to both hold a lecture series like this, and actually have an sizable audience attend it.

    To compare: It gets lonely here in (Niagara Region, Ontario) Canada. Hardly a lecture series in sight and, on the odd occasion someone does pull one together, the turnout is so poor they make note not to make the same mistake again.

    For all your troubles, and I’m not trying to understate or dismiss them, in many ways you Americans are very lucky.

  3. NNYSkeptic says

    It’s especially pleasing because it’s at a college with “Appalachia” in its name. :-)

  4. says

    Appalachian State University is an amazing school with a great biology department. And Boone is beautiful. They have a tradition of inviting good speakers (I remember when they got Stephen Jay Gould and we at NCSU could not) so this is no surprise. I wish Boone was a little closer to me – it is a good 2h drive from here.

  5. llewelly says

    Unfortunately, unlike Ken Ham’s museum, Appalachia is not within a days’ jetpack-ride of 2/3 of America. And I don’t have a jetpack. So I’d like to know, will recordings of the talks be downloadable from anywhere?

  6. Joe says

    Damn, all of the lectures appear to be on weeknights – not gonna work, being 3 hours away and having to work the next day.
    Maybe I can convince my brother-in-law, App student and son of fundamentalist parents, to attend some.

    It’s great to get coverage like this for ASU and Boone. Although I hate to admit it, I have to wonder if App could draw names and coverage like this had it not been for their 3 consecutive (and counting) D1-AA Football National Championships (including their defeat of #5 Michigan last year), which has GREATLY raised the visibly of the University.

  7. says

    My uncle owns a cabin up in Boone, in the Blue Ridge mountains. It is beautiful. I remember going there summers as a kid. Fond memories.

    I did go to Appalachian State as a kid as well. Not as a student of course. We had found a small snake and had put it in a jar. My grandmother got her masters there, and both my mom and aunt attended briefly (the university, not the jar). So my mom and aunt took me to the university library to find books that would help identify the snake (which was a garter snake) and figure out what it eats so we could set up a terrarium.

    Like I said, fond memories. I wonder if they still have that massive preserved grizzly bear hanging around the library that so awed me as a kid.

    Like I said, fond memories.

  8. Will says

    Bah! I live in middle North Carolina and Boone is 2.5 hours from me. Finally something Sciency happens here, and I am stuck doing homework.

  9. Joe L. says

    @The Chemist – well, they have a brand new library now as of ~5 years ago (off of College St, behind First Baptist Church), but not sure if the big bear made the trip. That thing was probably falling apart by now. I remember staring up at it as a kid in the early 80’s (the library was open to the public, and my mom would take us there to read and hang out).

  10. NJ says

    Interestingly, Bora, one of the reasons that SJG made a trek to Boone was that Ken McKinney (geology emeritus) was a colleague of his in grad school.

    App State actually has a donated fund to support big-name visits for lectures. Past guests have included Roald Hoffman, Walter Alvarez, Walter Pittman, David Suzuki.

  11. dave says

    The University of Connecticut is hosting a similar lecture series in both the Fall and Spring. The schedule is set for the fall and can be found at

    Some of the highlights of the fall are Janet Browne on September 25th, Daniel C. Dennett on October 2nd, George Levine on October 15th, Sandra Herbert on November 5th, and Ian Tattersall on December 3rd.

  12. James F says


    Don’t forget Darwin’s Reach: A Celebration of Darwin’s Legacy Across Academic Disciplines, also at Hofstra on March 12-14. In addition to luminaries like Niles Eldredge and John E. Jones, I’ll be giving a short talk.

  13. James F says

    *hangs head*

    Shoulda read the link… let’s cancel each other out and hold our heads high, eh? ;-D

  14. Cassidy says

    I am, like several others, stuck in Raleigh. But I might skip a little class for such an educational opportunity…

    My family’s in Boone, however, and my mother’s even a middle school math and science teacher. Come on down, PZ — you can stay in our idyllic vacation cabin, amid the crawdads and christmas trees.

  15. Jeff D says

    Yes, Boone is a great little college town, and quite close to Blowing Rock and reasonably close to Grandfather Mountain.

    BUT Boone is “dry” (no mixed drinks at any local restaurants), and finding automobile parking space in Boone itself can be a hellish experience because of restrictions placed on local merchants to dissuade the University students from bringing automobiles on or near campus.

  16. says

    I’m glad to see my alma mater doing something right for a change. Such a conservative place – NC. I lived there for 21 years before breaking out to the slightly less conservative northern California.

    I never thought of appstate as being all that progressive – they even invited Jesse Helms to speak at graduation until the protests overrode the decision (thank godlessness). Amazing to see what a few years can do ;-).

  17. Bezoar says

    I KNEW there was something special about this school other than the fact that they beat Michigan last year in football. I plan to matriculate at my earliest convenience.

  18. Andrew says

    I live in Boone and am quite pleased with this development! I’m a student at the local high school (Watauga).

    Indeed, Boone is no longer a dry county! I’m way too young to drink anyway, but I still consider it to be a nice development.

  19. Sam L. says

    Woo! Thanks for posting that, PZ. I knew there were some others around here that might be interested.

  20. says

    Ugh! I’m so jealous! I just graduated from ASU last year, and now I’m up in Chicago. At least I still have friends with tape recorders….score. Granted, Chicago often has some good lectures, but this is a concentrated dose of SCIENCE!

  21. Cassidy says


    Nice to see a Pioneer lurking about ScienceBlogs! Both my brothers went/go there — one is a senior now. I went to Avery for two years (I know) before escaping for the oasis that is Science and Math in Durham :)

  22. Brian says

    I’m glad to see that there are sciency things coming to my fine state of Nawth Cackilacky.

    If only we could find something like this here in Chapel Hill…

  23. William says

    Thank you so much for calling this to my attention! I live in Asheville, NC (very close to ASU), but I didn’t know anything about any of this taking place. I’ll definitely be attending as many of these events as I can. Perhaps I’ll see and get to meet some Pharynguloids there! Is there some sort of secret handshake we could use?

    I love your blog PZ! You RULE! (Forgive me my dreadful toadying.)