Veteran Students
Apply Today Request Information Plan a Visit Giving to NCWC

"Origins: Before and After Darwin's Theory of Evolution"

Six of our region's scholars at NC Wesleyan and Nash County Community College lead a wide-ranging discussion of the various approaches to the issue of human origins. Topics of discussion include: Ancient Greek and Medieval European Christian concepts of human beginnings; myths, stereotypes, and African origins; Social Darwinism and the myth of testing for "intelligence;" evolution in the American South; and the debate over "intelligent design."

Friday, March 26, 3:00-8:45 p.m. – Dinner included & Saturday, March 27, 9:00 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Brown bag lunch optional


SESSION I: What We Talk About When We Talk About Cosmogony: Ancient and Medieval Thinking on the Origins of Humankind

  • Ovid, from Metamorphoses
  • Plato, from Timaeus
  • Aristotle, from Metaphysics
  • Genesis, Chapters 1-2
  • Bernardus Silvestris, from Cosmographia
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, from Summa Theologica

SESSION II: Myths, Stereotypes and Realities about Africa

  • Erik Gilbert and Jonathan Reynolds, "Preface" and "African and Human Origins," from Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present
  • L. H. Gann and Peter Duigan, "Problems of African Historiography," from Burden of Empire
  • Melville J. Herskovits, "The People and Their Past," from The Human Factor in Changing Africa
  • Robin Hallet, "The 'Dark Continent?'", from Africa: The Heritage and the Challenge

SESSION III: Social Darwinism and the Myth of Testing for "Intelligence"

  • Gerald Bracey, from On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools
  • Gerald Bracey, from Setting the Record Straight. Portsmouth
  • Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
  • Stephen Gould, from The Mismeasure of Man
  • Allen Hanson, from Testing, Testing. Berkley
  • Nicholas Lehmann, from The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
  • Peter Sacks, from Standardized Minds

SESSION IV: The Great Debate: Evolution in the American South

  • George Hunter, from A Civic Biology
  • Albert Edward Wiggam, from A New Decalogue of Science
  • William Graham Sumner, from The Forgotten Man
  • William Jennings Bryant, from The Fundamentals
  • Willima Jennings Bryant, from The Memoirs
  • Amzi Dixon, from The Root of Modern Evils
  • Selections from The North Carolina Experience

SESSION V: Intelligent Design and the Controversy over Natural Selection in the United States

  • Michael Behe, "What Darwinism Can't Do," from The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
  • Jonathan Weiner, "Creation by Variation," from The Book of the Finch
  • Stephen Jay Gould, "Not Necessarily a Wing," from Bully for Brontosaurus
  • Stephen Jay Gould, "The Problem of Perfection, or How Can a Clam Mount a Fish on Its
  • Rear End?", from Ever Since Darwin

SESSION VI: Concluding Panel

Seminar Leaders

Enjoy lifelong learning at this enriching lecture and discussion led by six of the region's most outstanding college and university faculty.

Dr. Festus Cole, Assistant Professor of History, North Carolina Wesleyan College
B.A., M.A., University of Sierra Leone
Ph.D., University of London

Biography: Dr. Festus Cole was educated at the Sierra Leone Grammar School and at the Albert Academy in Freetown and later read History at the University of Sierra Leone, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors. In addition to a post-graduate Diploma in Education, he holds an M.A. in history from the University of Sierra Leone. A former fellow of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, specializing on 'Sierra Leone and World War 1.' He has taught the history of Africa and other regions at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, at Birkbeck College, University of London, at The Ohio State University, at the State University of New York, and presently teaches at North Carolina Wesleyan College. His research interests include The Syrian diaspora, the history of disease and medicine and the role of the military in politics. Dr. Cole was a major contributor to New Perspectives on the Sierra Leone Krio, published in 2006.

Dr. Erica Kosal, Chair, Mathematics/Science Division, Associate Professor of Biology, North Carolina Wesleyan College
B.S., Michigan State University
M.S., Ph.D., North Carolina State University

Biography: Dr. Erica Kosal is an Associate Professor of Biology at North Carolina Wesleyan College. She also currently serves as the Chair of the Mathematics & Sciences Division at the College. Erica is finishing a term as a SENCER fellow (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) where she is working to bring the SENCER model of teaching science in a contextual way to colleagues. Dr. Kosal previously held NCWC's Jefferson Pilot Professorship during the 2004-2005 academic year. This award is the highest given to a faculty member and honors teaching, scholarship, and service to the College.

Erica teaches a variety of courses at NCWC including ecology, environmental science, animal behavior, invertebrate zoology, and global water issues. Additionally, she serves as the Environmental Science Program Director. Dr. Kosal serves as a mentor and director of students conducting research in the Honor's Program, where research projects primarily focus on environmental questions. During the summer months, Erica has offered workshops for both teachers and middle school students. She also occasionally teaches a summer course at North Carolina State University.

Dr. Kosal earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Michigan State University, and earned both her Master of Science degree in Ecology and her Ph.D. in Zoology from North Carolina State University. Her recent research publications focus on teaching methodologies and student success as well as case studies for use in the classroom. She also researches on female mate choice, primarily using insects as a model system, and has recently published in this area as well.

Dr. John R. Peacock III, Instructor of History, Nash Community College
B.A., M.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Ph.D., Louisiana State University

Biography: Dr. Jay Peacock is an Instructor of History at Nash Community College. He is a native of High Point, NC and an alumnus of Virginia Tech, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in History. Dr. Peacock earned his Ph.D. in History from Louisiana State University. He taught at LSU and Texas A & M before coming to Nash Community College, where he has taught History and Geography since 1992. Dr. Peacock is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies and belongs to the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. He lives in Wilson with his wife, Teresa, and sons, Jack and Andy.

Dr. Jeffrey W. Perry, Assistant Professor of English, North Carolina Wesleyan College
B.A., M.A., University of Louisville
Ph.D., Kent State University

Biography: Dr. Jeffrey W. Perry is Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina Wesleyan College and serves as the college's Writing Center Director. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Louisville, he traveled extensively before returning to graduate school. Dr. Perry received his Ph.D. from Kent State University's Literacy, Rhetoric, and Social Practice program. His work appears in The Sage Handbook of Writing Development and Practicing Research in Writing Studies: Reflections on Ethically Responsible Research. Dr. Perry's research and publications explore, theorize, and question classroom pedagogy, writing assessment, institutional assessment, and the politics of literacy. Dr. Perry lives in Rocky Mount, NC with his wife, Erin, and his two sons, Satchel and Cassius.

Dr. Jonathan Sarris, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina Wesleyan College
B.A., Washington College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Georgia

Biography: Dr. Jonathan Sarris was born and raised in Maryland. He has a B.A. in history from Washington College in Chestertown, MD, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia. He is the author of A Separate Civil War: Communities in Conflict in the Mountain South (Charlottesville, VA: 2006). He joined the faculty of North Carolina Wesleyan College in 2004, where he teaches all manner of American history courses, from Colonial and Revolutionary America to the Vietnam War. He lives in Greenville with his wife, historian and Rocky Mount native Karin L. Zipf, and their two children.

Dr. Lee Templeton, Assistant Professor of English, North Carolina Wesleyan College
B.A., Florida Southern College
M.S., Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Biography: Dr. Lee Templeton is Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina Wesleyan College. He received his B.A. in English from Florida Southern College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research interests include Medieval British literature, particularly issues of gender, grief, and chivalric identity; Chaucer; Malory; Ancient and Medieval literatures in translation; literary theory and rhetoric; teaching of literature; and rhetoric and music. His work has appeared in Medieval Perspectives, Sound Fabrics: Studies on the Intermedial and Institutional Dimensions of Popular Music, and Symploke.