Friday, June 14, 2013

Human evolution, locally.

Our university's PIO (public information officer) knows I care about and get a kick out of outreach so he sets me up with folks who are looking to learn about evolution. It's great. Recently I've visited a sixth grade science class and helped to kick off their evolution unit with humans (!). Also recently, a retirement community invited me to bring my hominin casts and share what I know about the human fossil record. And I've got another retirement community visit lined up for next week.

But I wanted to highlight one particular occasion that occurred recently here:

We set up a projector, passed around bones and casts, and with far too many slides I discussed human evolution with seven people from the area.

My title slide...

A slide of books that I recommended...

One patron took this list to heart and checked out Shubin's book before going home!

A journalist caught wind of the event (thanks to the advertisement the librarian had published in The Westerly Sun) and sat with laptop, typing as we went along. This is the article he wrote that made it into a few of the local newspapers in our area:

Some of those quotes, out of context, sound a bit dumber than they deserve. (But only a bit.) To my knowledge, I never spoke of woolly mammoths. (I prefer to talk about woolly rhinos.) The photo's not what I'd shoot or how I'd caption it. (Didn't participate in that.)

But by far I'm thrilled that human evolution was the theme of the afternoon at the Ashaway Free Library, I was delighted to speak about (and learn from) the folks at the event including the journalist, and I'm thrilled that our little evolution love-in got such in-depth coverage in our local newspapers!

I'm sharing here for a number of reasons but most of all because it's something that our group "Reporting Across the Culture Wars" (see also) at NESCent came together to try to encourage... and it happened without really any effort on my end except making it roaringly obvious how much I care about outreach to my university's PIO and then accepting the invitation from this librarian when he passed it along to me.

If this is something you think you'd enjoy doing, both personally and professionally, go for it. It's like having a college honors seminar right in your neighborhood!

Now, here's a fun guessing game. Can you spot the cranium that's out of place in this photo from the article?

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