From University of Cambridge:
An MPhil student at Cambridge University’s Department of the History and Philosophy of Science has won a £1000 prize in an essay competition connecting Darwin’s work with debates on science and religion.
Kathryn Tabb, a graduate of the University of Chicago who came over to Cambridge as a Gates Scholar, picked up the prize for an essay examining the implications of Darwin’s work on orchids.
“Darwin at Orchis Bank” saw off competition from entrants in six different countries working in fields as diverse as theology, creative writing and biology.
The essay considered his work on orchid morphology and pollination and its implications for the question of design in nature, drawing parallels and contrasts with contemporary ideas of ‘intelligent design’. Darwin’s research was discussed at length in correspondence with noted Harvard botanist Asa Gray, an ardent Presbyterian.
Dr Paul White, who organised the competition, said: “It is very gratifying for us on the Darwin Correspondence Project to see a student engaging with these historical materials with such thoughtfulness and enthusiasm, and exploring its modern relevance.”
Competition entrants were encouraged to study Darwin’s letters closely and to explore their relevance to contemporary discussions, as well of those with the 19th century.
The competition, which was open to students from all disciplines and stages of education, forms part of an initiative on Darwin and religion started by the Correspondence Project in 2007. Its long term goal is to create a web resource to bring together material from Darwin’s correspondence relevant to questions on science and religion with modern commentaries by leading authorities on the various areas of the debate.
Kathryn’s essay will be published on the Project’s website as part of this effort. Funding for the award was provided by the John Templeton Foundation, established in 1987 by philanthropist Sir John Templeton to fund work in the natural sciences, philosophy and theology, solutions to poverty and education.
The Darwin Correspondence Project, which is based at the University Library, is dedicated to locating and publishing Darwin’s letters. To date, it has located around 14,500 letters exchanged by Darwin and more than 2000 correspondents, and has made the complete texts of nearly 6000 of these available in print or online.
The Gates Scholarships were established in October 2000, through a $210 million gift to the University of Cambridge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The benefaction creates in perpetuity an international scholarship programme for foreign students to study at Cambridge.
Also, reported at Philosophy of Science Portal.