Alexander von Humboldt was a role model for 19th century “children of Humboldt” who followed the path of Humboldtian science – explore, collect, measure, connect, and theorize. In particular, his influence on Darwin was profound both in setting Darwin’s life course and in fostering his idea of evolution. The Origin of Species was published in 1859, the year Humboldt died, and, in America, the reaction to the theory of evolution divided Humboldt’s scientific disciples. That debate between Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz was won by Gray and the evolutionists, but Agassiz popularized biology as a science by urging teachers and students to study nature directly in the field. They and professional biologists surveyed American nature during a time of profound ecological change in America, and their legacy is still found in lists of “native” species whose numbers and distribution were in part the result of the ecological change wrought by the settlement of America. This lecture will examine the context and impacts of the emergence of biology as a science in America and the influence of Humboldt on our understanding of American Nature.
· Lunchtime Lectures now online as podcasts! Check them out here - http://austineconetwork.com/nature-in-the-city/
Wednesday, June 27 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Norman Hackerman Building (NHB), 1.720
100 24TH ST E, Austin, Texas 78712