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Holiday Lecture - Advancing Together: Cooperation and Creativity in Human Evolution

1200 New York Ave, Washington, DC
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Se Kim Introduction 0:00-8:00
Jennifer Wiseman Speaker Introduction 8:10-11;30

Agustín Fuentes

Presentation 11:30-46:45
Jennifer Wiseman Speaker Introduction 46:45-48:55
Ron Cole-turner Response 49:00-1:05:24
Discussion / Q&A  


Advancing Together: Cooperation and Creativity in Human Evolution | AAAS/Carla Schaffer

Over the past 2 million years, the human lineage evolved from a group of bipedal, apelike beings to makers of stone tools, controllers of fire and producers of cave art. Humans went on to flourish in language and arts, becoming constructors of towns, cities, nations and empires, and ultimately becoming a core force in the global ecosystem. How did this happen? Were these advances solely the results of competition for resources, or did they grow from something more complex and distinctive?

In this presentation, University of Notre Dame anthropologist Agustín  Fuentes will make the case for the latter argument, suggesting that these advances stem from a unique cocktail of creativity and collaboration that is distinctive to our species. Fuentes will explore the ways in which the human lineage acquired a distinctive set of neurological, physiological and social skills that enabled us to work together and think together in order to imagine, create, collaborate and compete at increasing levels of complexity. He will demonstrate ways that this combination of attributes has propelled the development of our bodies, minds and cultures, both for good and for bad. The discussion will offer a brief glimpse into this emerging new synthesis of the human evolutionary story. Pittsburgh Theological Seminary theologian Ron Cole-Turner will respond.

A reception will follow.

Opening Remarks

Jennifer Wiseman, Director AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion



Agustín Fuentes, trained in zoology and anthropology, is a professor and chair of the Anthropology Department at the University of Notre Dame. His research delves into the hows and whys of being human. With activities ranging from chasing monkeys in jungles and constructing cities to exploring the lives of our evolutionary ancestors to examining what people actually do across the globe, Fuentes is interested in both the big questions and the small details of what makes humans and our closest relatives tick. His current research includes cooperation and community in human evolution, ethnoprimatology and multispecies anthropology, evolutionary theory, and interdisciplinary approaches to human nature(s). Fuentes’ recent books include “Evolution of Human Behavior,” “Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature,” “Conversations on Human Nature(s)” and the forthcoming “The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional.”



Ron Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp professor of theology and ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Throughout his career, he has been fascinated by the religious significance of new developments in science and technology, especially when they challenge the way we see our own humanity. His recent work is framed by two questions — where have we come from, and where are we going? In 2016, Cole-Turner published “The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins,” which explores the latest developments in the science of human origins from the standpoint of Christian theology. His other recent books include “Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Transcendence” and “Design and Destiny: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Human Germline Modification.” Cole-Turner is an adviser for the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), and he is one of the co-founders of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR).

5:30 pm - Introduction 

5:45 - 6:30 pm -  Presentations

6:30 - 7:00 pm - Discussion

7:00 - 8:00 pm - Reception

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