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New interactive website to give public a say in evolution debate

7 March 2008

A new interactive website – www.darwin.rcuk.ac.uk - has been launched today that gives everyone the chance to consider Darwin’s theories of evolution and what they mean today. It shows how his ideas are influencing our broader culture as well as science, engineering, and social science and invites people to join in discussions with researchers. The Darwin Today website is being launched by the UK’s seven Research Councils.

Next year will see nationwide celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species. The Darwin Today website will give everyone the chance to get ahead by learning about and discussing evolution and its contribution to modern thinking. People will also be able to shape the public events the Research Councils will be running during 2009 to mark the anniversaries.

The Darwin Today website will feature monthly topic-based podcasts and magazine features highlighting contemporary UK research that throws light on Darwin’s theories and its relevance to modern research. The website will be highly interactive; the public will be able to post questions, rate articles and discuss and debate evolution with researchers.

The first video and discussion topic on the website is on the theme of evolution and society. It features research ranging from the evolution of language to how the media portrays evolution.

Dr Jeremy Pritchard, a Research Council funded scientist and contributor to the website, said: “The Darwin Today website is a fantastic place to learn about evolution and modern research and to join in online discussions. Every month a difference aspect of evolution or contemporary research will be explored in a video and then people can join us to discuss it.”

Dr Patrick Middleton, from the Darwin Today website team, said: “www.darwin.rcuk.ac.uk is our way of inviting people across the UK to have their say on what interests them about evolution, we’ll use these discussions to help develop the activities that we plan to run across the UK in 2009 to celebrate the anniversaries of Darwin’s birth and the publication of his theories.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Darwin Today ( www.darwin.rcuk.ac.uk) is the new interactive website on Darwin, his theories and contemporary research using and on evolution. It has been developed by the UK Research Councils under their strategic partnership, Research Councils UK (RCUK).

The website will:

  • Survey what interests or puzzles people about evolution, which will help inform the development of our engagement activities
  • Showcase the contemporary application of evolutionary theory
  • Provide a forum for discussing questions about evolution
  • List relevant events and activities being run by RCUK

The seven Research Councils are independent non-departmental public bodies, funded by the Science Budget through the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). They are incorporated by Royal Charter and together manage a research budget of over £2.8 billion a year.

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the partnership between the UK's seven Research Councils. Through RCUK, the Research Councils work together to champion the research, training and innovation they support.

The seven UK Research Councils are:
Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Contact

Patrick Middleton, Head of Engagement

tel: 01793 413368

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382