This year-long cluster explores the intersections of scientific, philosophic and humanistic ways of thinking about, writing about, and visually representing ways we look at origin stories. From a scientific perspective, we focus on the core scientific principals related to Cosmology, Physics, Biology and Geology that address fundamental questions regarding the origins of the universe, time, stars, the Earth, and its inhabitants. The scientific perspective is balanced by the humanist view, though which we examine cultural and historical expressions of the problem of "beginning”, paying close attention to Dine (Navajo) and Greco-Roman/Christian cultural narratives, and contemporary Science Fiction fantasies about origin.
Origin Stories courses:
Geology 260: Origin Stories: From the Big Bang to Mother Earth
This intermediate science course, co-taught by Arlo Weil (Geology) and Michael Schulz (Physics), focuses on the core scientific principals related to Cosmology, Physics and Geology that help address fundamental questions regarding the origin of the universe, the origin of time, the origin of stars and our own solar system, and the origin of Earth, its atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.
English 260: Origin Stories: Human perspectives on beginnings
This course, taught by Bethany Schneider, begins with an examination of "Western" origin stories and philosophies of progress and history, with the intention of both historicizing and "making strange" the cultural inheritances most prevalent in Europe and post-contact North America. Throughout the course we turn our attention to origin stories from various parts of the world that might specifically illuminate the science in the cluster.
Biology 236: Evolution
This course covers the history of evolutionary theory, population genetics, molecular and developmental evolution, paleontology, and phylogenetic analysis. Portions of the course are devoted to discussing the role of teleology in evolution, as well as evolutionary novelties connected to origin myths, such as domestic corn, limbless snakes, feathered birds, shelled turtles, and "hairless" humans. Taught by Greg Davis.