Press Release 041/2009

Darwin and the Consequences

KIT Series of Presentations on the Trail of Evolution Theory
Charles Darwin at the time of publication of his evolution theory in the late 1850s

“Exhausted Creation? Charles Darwin and His Impact” – this is the title of the KIT Colloquium Fundamentale in the 2009 summer semester. This new series of presentation organized by ZAK | Center for Applied Cultural Science and Studium Generale will focus on Charles Darwin’s evolution theory that changed our view of the world like no other theory. The series will start on May 7 with Professor Ulrich Kutschera from the University of Kassel talking about “Evolution Is a Fact. What Darwin Did not Know” (18.00 hrs, university campus, Engesser-Hörsaal, building 10.81, Otto-Ammann-Platz 1, 1st floor). Admission is free.

Darwinism, social darwinism, cultural evolution – even social, political, and economic phenomena are often interpreted to be evolutionary. This requires a critical review of the explanation potential and terminology of evolution theory. To what an extent is Darwin’s doctrine misunderstood or even misused? Does it also cover human moral behavior? Questions like these will be dealt with by the KIT Colloquium Fundamentale on the impacts of evolution theory in natural science, sociology, theology, cultural science, and ethics, which will be held on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the great English natural researcher Charles Darwin.

During the first presentation on next Tuesday, May 7, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kutschera will focus on Darwin’s main work “On the Origin of Species” (1859). He will outline which of the five hypotheses of Darwin concerning the change of species has been confirmed empirically and accepted as a fact by today’s biology. At the same time, Kutschera will point out the role of change in evolution history, why altruistic behavior is not contradictory to Darwin’s selection principle, and why there is no intelligent design in nature. Moreover, Kutschera will present an own evolution theory that goes beyond that of Darwin without contradicting its basic principles.

Ulrich Kutschera has been professor of plant physiology and evolution biology at the University of Kassel since 1993. Moreover, he teaches at the Carnegie Institution for Science of Stanford University. From 2004 to 2007, he was vice-president of the Association of German Biologists. Since 2002, he has been chairman of the Evolution Bio-logy working group.

The Colloquim Fundamentale organized by ZAK | Center for Applied Cultural Science and Studium Generale is one of KIT’s central series of presentations. It is organized every semester, with an interdisciplinary topic being covered by presentations, disputes, and podium discussions. The Colloquium Fundamentale addresses students and KIT staff as well as the interested public. Every summer semester, the program concentrates on a research area and its interaction with society. During the winter semester, it is focused on an issue of sociopolitical relevance.

Survey of Planned Presentations

May 07   Evolution Is a Fact. What Darwin Did Not Know
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kutschera
Chair of Plant Physiology and Evolution Biology, Universität Kassel and Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University (USA), chairman of the Evolution Biology working group, Association of German Biologists

May 14   Darwinistic Perspectives of Sociocultural Evolution
Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Meyer
Professor of Sociology, Universität Augsburg

May 28   Charles Darwin’s View of Man – Evolution and Enlightenment
Prof. Dr. Eve-Marie Engels
Chair of Ethics in Biosciences, Faculty of Biology, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

June 18    Darwinism: With and Against Darwin
Prof. Dr. Franz Wuketits
Professor of Science Theory (Focus: Biosciences), University of Vienna, Deputy Chairman of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg

July 02   Dispute: Evolution versus Creationism
Prof. Dr. Dittmar Graf
Professor of Biology and Didactis of Biology, Universität Dortmund
Prof. Dr. phil. Gereon Wolters
Professor of Philosophy and History of Sciences (in particular of biological sciences), Universität Konstanz

July 09   Podium Discussion: Darwin’s Impact between Science and Myth
Dr. Sabine Paul
Molecular and Evolution Biologist, Member of the Darwin Year Committee
Christopher Schrader
Science editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, editor-in-chief of the magazine SZ Wissen
Prof. Dr. Eckart Voland
Philosophy of Biosciences, Center for Philosophy and Fundamentals of Sciences, Universität Gießen




Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

jha, April 30, 2009


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Sigrid Heneka-Peters
ZAK I Zentrum für Angewandte
Kulturwissenschaft und
Studium Generale
Tel.: +49 721 608 8027

The press release is available as a PDF file.