Bethune’s Science and Society Seminar Series to focus on oceans

image of the ocean posterAn expert on the history of natural history and the sciences of the earth and sea will deliver the inaugural lecture in the 2005-2006 Science and Society Seminar Series hosted by Bethune College. Princeton University Professor Graham Burnett will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 4:30 to 6pm in room 109, Accolade West Building, located on York’s Keele campus.

Burnett, Princeton’s 2003-2004 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow and a world-renowned scholar, will discuss how a fascinating range of biological, linguistic and neurological research in the mid-20th century began to focus on whales. His talk is titled, “How did we decide to ‘Save the Whales’? Science, Sentiment and Cetology in the 1960s”.

Bethune College’s Science and Society Seminar Series is an annual event at York University. The series presents seminars by visiting speakers on a scientific topic of broad public interest with the purpose of promoting discussion between students and faculty from different disciplines both within the University and beyond.

This year’s series centres on the topic “Oceans: The Life Around Us”. The current scientific interest in exploring the deep oceans stems from several roots: climate change research, physical oceanography, marine biology and ecosystem modelling. At the same time, the oceans are also increasingly the focus of critical environmental and political concerns.

More about Graham Burnett

Prof. Graham BurnettBurnett is a historian of science. His interests include the history of natural history and the sciences of the earth and the sea from the 17th through the 20th centuries, including cartography, navigation and hydrography.

His recent research has examined the role of the geographical sciences in European colonialism. He has also done research work on Charles Darwin, the history of exploration, and early modern optics. His first book, Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (2000), examines the relationship between cartography and colonialism in the 19th century. He is also the author of “Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest” (forthcoming in 2005), a monograph on Cartesian thought and 17th-century lens making, and A Trial By Jury (2001), a narrative account of his experience as the jury foreman on a Manhattan murder trial.

He has written essays and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New Yorker, the Economist, the American Scholar, Daedalus, The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New Republic. Burnett was awarded the 1999 Nebenzahl Prize in the History of Cartography, and is editorially involved with Volume IV of The History of Cartography.

All talks in the series are open to the university community and the public. For more information, visit the Bethune College Web site.