How Victorian England Reacted to Darwins Unsettling News

Ref: C2225408

This course is built these themes: (1) deep time – the consequences of an understanding of the geological record for established religion, and (2) the concept of transmutation of species – the differences between human and beast and the consequences for the human soul and a creator God. It will cover: • The early context – what ideas about evolution and geological timescales were understood in the early 19th century? • Darwin’s voyage on The Beagle and the insights gained from what he observed • Darwin’s “big idea” (the Theory of Natural Selection) and why he kept it hidden for 22 years • Public appetite for general science at the time; the context of institutional concerns (including Parliament and the established Church) • The work of Alfred Russell Wallace • The Origin of Species (1859) • Scientific, religious and public reactions to “Darwinism” – and to its application to humanity • The Descent of Man (1871) • Darwin’s legacy

Course aim

To provide an understanding of Charles Darwin’s life and works, and of how his theories came to be understood and (eventually) accepted by the public in late-Victorian Britain

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the key events in Darwin’s life.
  • Understand the theory of Natural Selection as a mechanism for evolutionary change
  • Discuss the impact of Darwin’s scientific discoveries on the Church, British institutions and the general public during the mid-Victorian era.
  • Analyse Darwin’s legacy today

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Janet Browne’s academic biography of Darwin (1995) is full and readable - vol. 1 Voyaging and vol. 2 The Power of Place A full record of Darwin’s works can be accessed at http://darwin-online.org.uk/

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • A visit to Darwin’s home in Kent can be arranged here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/home-of-charles-darwin-down-house/

Download full course information sheet

How Victorian England Reacted to Darwins Unsettling News

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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