The Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences Division of Math, Science, and Technology welcomed evolutionary biologist and popular science author Richard Dawkins, M.A., D.Phil., to Nova Southeastern University as part of the college's 2010-2011 Distinguished Speakers Series. He delivered a talk titled "The Fact of Evolution."
Dawkins is a former professor for public understanding of science at Oxford University and an emeritus fellow of New College-University of Oxford. He has established The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, whose mission is "to support scientific education, critical thinking, and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance, and human suffering."
Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularized the gene-centered view of evolution-a theory that claims genes "care" only about themselves and the creation of more genes. In his 1982 book The Extended Phenotype, Dawkins introduced into the field of evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not limited to the organism to which they belong and can stretch far into the environment. Since then, Dawkins has published nine books on the value of rigorous scientific analysis, the ancestry of human life, and the blind force of physics, among other related subjects. His most recent book, The Greatest Show on Earth (2010), brings Charles Darwin's arguments into the 21st Century-and has appeared on bestseller lists around the world.
On television, the radio, and in public speaking engagements, Dawkins is regularly questioned about his vocal critique of creationism (the religious belief that the universe was created by a deity) and intelligent design (the theory that certain features of the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause, not by natural selection). In defense, Dawkins publically encourages the teaching of evolution around the world as a means to prevent the propagation of terrorism and violence in the name of religion. His work also advocates for social and political equality for atheists. He is an avid supporter of the separation of religion from education and politics.
Dawkins is a recipient of the Michael Faraday Prize (1990), which is awarded by the Royal Society of London for "excellence in communicating science to UK audiences"; the Kistler Prize (2001), which recognizes original contributions "to the understanding of the connection between human heredity and human society"; and a silver medal (1989) by the Zoological Society of London.
As part of the college mission to prepare students for rich professional careers and active citizenship, the college frames co-curricular programs and experiences around a broad annual theme that unites our community in multidisciplinary exploration. The academic theme for the 2010-2011 school year is "Identity." Dawkins was the third distinguished speaker to address this theme.