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Seven of McGill's foremost authorities are gearing up to tackle timely, complex and at times controversial topics for the Faculty of Science's second instalment of the popular Mini-Science lecture series.
In a few weeks, McGill Mini-Science 2008: Ecology, Evolution and Extinction, will begin a seven-week run, covering everything from the science and polarizing controversy of evolution, to global change and extinction, to sustainability and biodiversity.
"Of the many topic suggestions submitted for this year's Mini, the subject of evolution was in the top three," Dean Martin Grant said. "As we get ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the timing couldn't be better." When a group of researchers sat down at the Faculty Club to discuss this year's line-up and realized that linking evolution to biodiversity and extinction added extra layers to explore, coming up with a catchy alliterative title for the series was all that was left to do, Grant joked.
If last year's Mini-Science series on the brain was any indication, one should expect the science will "go deep" this time around, too. Though each lecture is tailored to engage, edify and entertain the layperson, the material will not be diluted and oversimplified. Grant maintains that the overwhelming popularity of the series, and the other public science events like the standing-room-only Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposia, prove that Montrealers expect nothing less from McGill. The depth and breadth of research expertise is the main draw. "We have the best scientists in the world right here on campus," Grant said. "What better way to give back to the community than to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas through this kind of outreach?"
While the lectures deal with serious issues affecting the planet, the goal is to provide the public with up-to-date analysis and solutions. Delores LaPratt, Professional Associate in the Faculty of Science and Mini-Science organizer, stated that the series will leave participants with hope for Earth's future. "After all, Mini-Science isn't about painting a bleak picture of things, it's about demystifying the issues and arming the public with the knowledge needed to bring about positive change."
Mini-Science begins on March 26 and will run every Wednesday until May 7. For details, go to www.mcgill.ca/science/mini.