Evolutionary Epic Home

Teaching Big History

Evolution of Religion

Cosmocentric Catholic Doctrine

Islands of Sustainability

Thresholds of Human Evolution







Special Focus Sessions

Teaching Big History at College / University Level
Session Chair - Cynthia Brown

This special focus session considered the issues one faces when introducing big history into the college/university curriculum. These issues included:
    1. how one can change habits of thought and learn enough,
    2. how to manage one's career prospects, given promotion criteria
    3. where in the curriculum big history belongs
    4. what materials to use until a textbook is published
    5. how to deal with students' religious conflicts
    6. how to prepare future big history professors.


The Evolution of Religion: Engaging the Outcomes of the 2007 Conference
Session Chair - Joseph Bulbulia

 Does evolutionary theory explain life better than religious mythology?  If so, is evolutionary theory a "universal acid" capable of dissolving cherished spiritual outlooks?   Should we seek to isolate religion from evolutionary science, considering both to be separate "magisteriums"? Or can we apply evolutionary theory to better understand our religious dispositions, rites, and institutions?   What survives of spirituality if we do?   Do the practices of evolutionary study resemble religious practices or are there important differences?  Should evolution become a foundation for a more intellectually respectable spirituality, or will making science a religion threaten its impartiality?  The questions evolutionary theory and religion pose to each other are manifold, unavoidable, and momentous.  Participants in this session raised some of the most urgent of these, and challenged each other with their responses.  They both revisited the work of the 2007 Evolution of Religion Conference and looked to the future of the field of the scientific study of religion.


The Evolutionary Epic:
Opportunities for Cosmocentric Catholic Doctrine and Practice

Session Chairs – Peter Hess and Linda Gibler

The Evolutionary Epic is a source of both challenge and revelation for religious traditions. In this session, we discussed the implications of the previous days’ presentations for Roman Catholicism. Topics were determined by participants’ interests and included the effects of a new understanding of ourselves in relationship to the Universe on subjects such as scriptural interpretation, Catholic doctrine, sacramental celebration, and spiritual practice. Larger questions considered included the resources and wisdom Catholicism might have to offer in response to the global ecological crisis.

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Islands of Sustainability Panel
Marc Gilbert - Panel Moderator
Professor of History and National Endowment for the Humanities
Endowed Chair in World History and Humanities
Hawai’i Pacific University

"Islands of Sustainability featured Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) faculty, staff, students and local allies who addressed HPU's fledgling efforts at greening our campus, but also looked at the general question regarding how schools, including the University of Hawaii and Punahou School (K-12), can serve as models of sustainable growth that are a necessity for both these "Islands" and for a sustainable future for humankind.

Panel Members:

Aimee Blom - Graduate Assistant of the International Exchange and Study Abroad, Masters of Arts,
                       Global Leadership and Sustainable Development - Hawai'i Pacific University

Dana Beatty - Global Citizenship Symposium Committee - Hawai’i Pacific University

Jon Davidann - Professor of History and Director of International Exchange and Study Abroad -
                         Hawai’i Pacific University

Phyllis Frus - Associate Professor of English - Hawai’i Pacific University

Stephen Allen - Associate Professor of Chemistry, Environmental Science Program,
                         College of Natural Sciences

Elaine Leilani Madison -
Professor of English - Hawai’i Pacific University

Carri Morgan - Director, Luke Center for Public Service - Punahou School

Arthur Whatley - Professor of Organization Change and Program Chair, MA Program in Global Leadership 
                          and Sustainable Development - Hawai’i Pacific University


Critical Thresholds in Human Evolution: From Ape to Artist
Session Chairs - Kathy Schick and Nicholas Toth

This session dealt with the rise of bipedal hominids, the earliest tool-makers, and the increasing trend towards cultural complexity and the modern human condition. Topics discussed include the human palaeontological record, modern primate analogs, the palaeolithic archaeological record, the molecular evidence, the origins of art, and the rise of domestication of plants and animals, sedentism, metallurgy and civilization. These topics represent critical thresholds in becoming human and reveal the extended nature of this process and the involvement of major shifts in diverse domains, including biological structures, molecular evolution, the brain and cognitive processes, technological developments, aesthetic pursuits, harnessing of energy resources (food and otherwise), and development of large-scale, complex societies.

1. Bruce Latimer, Human paleontologist, Director, Cleveland Museum of Natural History.   
        “Upstanding Apes: The Rise of Bipedalism and the Hominid Lineage”

2. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Duane Rumbaugh, Great Ape Trust of Iowa, Des Moines. 
        “The Mind of an Ape: What Our Closest Living Relatives Can Tell Us About the
         Human Condition”

3.  Kathy Schick, Archaeologist, The Stone Age Institute and Indiana University, Bloomington.
        “The Learning Game: The Origins of Human Culture”

4.  Nicholas Toth, archaeologist, The Stone Age Institute and Indiana University, Bloomington.
        “Chips off the Old Block: The Co-Evolution of Human Technology and Biology”

5.  Rebecca Cann, Anthropologist and human geneticist, University of Hawaii, Manoa.
        “DNA and Divergence: The Molecular Evidence for Human Origins”

6.  Henry Corning, Artist and sculptor, Corte Madera, California.
         “Symbols in Stone, Bone, and Clay: The Beginnings of Art”

7.  Alan Almquist, Anthropologist, California State University, Hayward.
         “Human Origins and Human Education: Communicating Palaeoanthropology to
          Students and the Public”

8.  Paul Wason, Archaeologist, the John Templeton Foundation.
         “The Postglacial World: The Rise of Farming and Civilization ”

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