Darwin Day at NDSU is the annual event that celebrates both science and the birth of Charles Darwin, one of the top scientists of all time. It is a celebration that takes place all over the world near February 12 (when he was born in 1809). However, it has been a tradition at NDSU since 2010 when we held the first multiple day, multiple venue event. Every year since we have focused the two days around an invited keynote speaker – someone who is generally an expert in the field of biology/geology/philosophy and/or has been integral in promoting the study and teaching of evolution.
In 2010, we had no less than Eugenie Scott as our keynote speaker. She has played a crucial role in forming and running the National Center for Science Education and has been at the heart of many battles for the protection of evolutionary teaching. In these early years, there was often a viewing of evolution related films (e.g. “Kansas vs. Darwin”, “Flock of Dodos”, “Where did we come from?”) and a question and answer session consisting of a panel of NDSU scientists and philosophers. We have had collaborations with the art department involving a student competition based on the theme of “Endless forms most beautiful” and live music. Dean Scott Wood with his guitar has for many years regaled the audience with his own original re-written versions of classic tunes as the gathered masses celebrate by eating birthday cake and having their pictures taken with a life size cut out of Darwin.
Graduate students in Biology, Geology and other departments have always played an important role in making Darwin Day happen. In addition to helping with advertising and producing an official t shirt every year they are the core of the “Hall of Biodiversity” since the first one in 2012. The concept of the pop-up museum is to collect and prepare specimens from the Universities biological, geological, entomological and anthropological collections then display them with informative material to attract, amaze and educate the public. The “Hall” has evolved into an all day affair that attracts school kids, the university community, the greater Fargo/Moorhead public and the press. In February of 2020 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Darwin Day at NDSU.