Against Ignorance: Science Education in the 21st Century
A Conversation with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

Sunday, March 9, 2008 | 2:00 – 4:00pm | Memorial Auditorium | Free and Ticketed

The rise of religiously motivated threats to scientific practice and instruction in American schools has motivated biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss to engage in a public dialogue on strategies for science education in the twenty-first century. Their open conversation concerning science literacy and related issues began in the July 2007 Scientific American and continues at this Aurora Forum event moderated by Mark Kay of the Stanford School of Medicine.

Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor in the Public Understanding of Science, at the University of Oxford, is an ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and popular science writer who first came to prominence with his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, which popularized the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term meme into the lexicon, helping found memetics. In 1982, he made a widely cited contribution to the science of evolution with the theory presented in The Extended Phenotype that phenotypic effects are not limited to an organism's body but can stretch far into the environment, including into the bodies of other organisms. He has since written several best-selling popular books, and appeared in a number of television and radio programs, concerning evolutionary biology, creationism, and religion. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. His many prizes include the International Cosmos Prize, the Nakayama Prize for Human Science and the Shakespeare Prize for Distinguished Contributions to British Culture. The author of The God Delusion, he is an outspoken atheist, secular humanist, and sceptic. In 2006 he created the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Lawrence Krauss, the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University, received his PhD from MIT in 1982 and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Author of seven popular books, including The Physics of Star Trek, and dozens of commentaries for national publications, radio and television, he also lectures widely on science and public policy. Among his many scientific honors, he has the unique distinction of having received the highest awards from all three U.S. physics societies. A Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has been particularly active in issues of science and society, leading the effort by scientists to defend the teaching of science in public schools, and to help define the proper limits of both science and religion, as well as defending scientific integrity in government. An open letter he sent to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, urging the pontiff not to build new walls between science and faith, led the Vatican to reaffirm the Roman Catholic Church’s acceptance of natural selection as a valid scientific theory. Most recently he has led the call for a presidential debate on science and technology.

MARK A. KAY (introducer)
Mark Kay, the Director of the Program in Human Gene Therapy and the Dennis Farrey Family Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Genetics at Stanford University, received a PhD in Developmental Genetics and MD from Case Western Reserve University. Before coming to Stanford, he was at the University of Washington as Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine, with adjuncts in Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Pathology. His research has lead to over 175 scientific publications in various leading journals. He is currently oversees a laboratory focused on gene therapy for hemophilia and viral hepatitis. His work has been recognized by many awards. He was on the founding board of directors of the American Society for Gene Therapy and served as the Society’s President in 2005-2006.

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