Celebrating science on the Palouse — Darwin on the Palouse combines science and music


International Darwin Day will come early to Moscow this year, as the Humanists of the Palouse host their seventh annual Darwin on the Palouse celebration beginning 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.

According to the International Darwin Day website, the holiday is “a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.” On the Palouse, this mission will be honored with two speakers and a free concert by singer, songwriter and activist Shelley Segal.

“(Darwin on the Palouse) is about the advancement of science,” Humanists of the Palouse President Cassie Seubert said.

The event brings an international day of recognition to a local level, giving Palouse community members the chance to gather and celebrate science.

“We like to focus on science … oftentimes it’s conflicts that are unfortunately controversial,” Seubert said.

Citing vaccines and climate change as two of the many topics that Darwin on the Palouse speakers have, Seubert said that education is a priority for the event, “but also to come together to celebrate science and the scientific process.”

The 2018 Darwin on the Palouse celebration will feature University of Minnesota Morris biologist and science blogger PZ Myers, along with local UI Ph.D. student Hannah LoRene Smith.

Smith is studying the social impacts of climate change at the McCall Outdoor Science School, and said she was “thrilled” when the Humanists of the Palouse group reached out to her to speak at the event.

While this will be Smith’s first time speaking at an event like Darwin on the Palouse, she said she has experience at the university delivering lectures. Her presentation, titled “Living with chaos: finding hope in the Anthropocene,” is intended to help her audience resist the temptation to “tune out and give up.”

“Everything in the world right now seems pretty crazy and chaotic,” Smith said. “But you don’t have to (tune out) because there is hope.”

Synthesizing theories from a variety of practices, Smith said she hopes her presentation will shed some light on a secular source of hope for the future, and show “how we can heal and grow forward.”

Alongside Humanists of the Palouse, the Darwin on the Palouse event is co-sponsored by the UI Secular Student Alliance (SSA). SSA President Sarah Lusk, a senior at UI, has been a member of the SSA for two years.

“We like to get the word out about science,” Lusk said. “That’s what Darwin on the Palouse really focuses on — let’s give everyone science!”

Echoing Myers’s message, Lusk said she hopes Darwin on the Palouse attendees will all come to the realization that “science isn’t scary.”

“Climate change is a thing, it’s happening and scientists aren’t going to lie to you about that,” Lusk said.

In addition to the event speakers, Lusk said she looks forward to Segal’s concert.

“How many times do you get the chance to go to a free concert?” Lusk said.

Seubert also said she was excited that Darwin on the Palouse would host a musical guest.

“I think that her music is going to resonate with a lot of people,” Seubert said. Quoting the artist’s biography, Seubert described Segal’s musical style as including “elements of folk, pop, rock and jazz.”

While both Humanists of the Palouse and the SSA share the mission of providing a source of non-faith centered community to local atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non-religious individuals, the Darwin on the Palouse celebration is open to all.

“The whole event is free, and an excellent thing to do on a Friday night,” Seubert said.

For local college students, the event provides a fun, community-based activity to recognize an individual who contributed immensely to humankind’s understanding of science.

“You don’t need to be someone who identifies as nonreligious,” Seubert said. “It’s about valuing science.”

Beth Hoots can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

Darwin on the Palouse 2018

When: Friday, Feb 9

6:30 – 9 p.m.: speakers PZ Myers and Hannah L.


9:30 – 10:30 p.m.: Shelley Segal performs live

Where: Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre

Cost: Admission is free

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  1. I love science and I’m a Catholic. The unfortunate part of what could be a great event is associating science with atheism. That creates a perception that should not be created. Science is a separate area of study from religion or disbelief in God. I would love to go but refuse to attend because of the underlying sentiment that all Christians do not believe in science. That adds to the separation of people in our world that is simply not kind, not encouraging, and not furthering a need to bring us together as we all live together.

  2. Jean, I help organize the event, and there certainly is no implication that all scientists are atheists. We’ve even had speakers who weren’t atheists before (in fact, many I’m not sure about, because it’s not a question we ask of our speakers before inviting them).