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Paläontologisches Institut Evolution-Cogito 2014

Autumn 2014: Evolution and the Human & Social Sciences: New perspectives

General information

Evolution is one of the most fundamental ideas the scientific endeavour has produced. It addresses questions concerning the origins of diversity and of our own species. In the past, the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on the social sciences, often through the pejorative and frequently misunderstood term of Social Darwinism. Today it becomes clearer than ever that any serious attempt to understand social and cultural phenomena must take evolutionary theory into account.

The symposium aims at an audience of researchers and students of the humanities and social sciences.

The goal is to discuss various new and important concepts in evolutionary biology, not least to show the variety of concepts currently applied, and to promote the reception and reflection of these concepts in the humanities. Accordingly, the sessions of the symposium represent building blocks, each referring to a specific style of thought in evolutionary biology and related fields of humanities.

This series of talks will introduce students to new developments in biology (e.g. epigenetics) and their relevance to the study of human behaviour and history. No biologist would deny the importance of Charles Darwin to the theory of evolution by natural selection. But focusing on Darwin's original idea overshadows some of the most important developments in the past 150 years and their significance for research in the human and social sciences.

The talks will be given by leading researchers in Europe and USA followed by discussions mediated by the organiser. The talks do not require prior knowledge of evolutionary theory. Each event will conclude with a buffet dinner for all participants, allowing extra time for the exchange of ideas and impressions. The meetings are open to students from all faculties of the UZH / ETH and limited to a maximum number of 40 participants.

We thank the Cogito Foundation for its generous financial support. The Cogito Foundation aims to encourage communication between disciplines and familiarize the public with scientific developments:


The series includes four meetings, which will take place on Monday evening from 18:00-21:00 in the following dates: Oct. 13th, Oct. 27th, Nov. 17th, Dec. 1st.


The venue location is the Museum of Zoology and Palaeontology at Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zürich.

How to register?

Due to the limited space of 40 participants and the buffet coordination it is necessary to register in order to participate in this seminar series. Please fill in the short registration form. Subsequently you will receive a message informing you if your registration has been successful.