International Darwin Day inspires people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. It is a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.
Origin of the Celebration
Ever since Charles Darwin published his radically insightful book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin has been the focus of commemorations and tributes by scientists, artists, scholars, and freethinkers throughout the world. From the early gatherings after his death at his own Downe House, to bicentennial events all over the globe, celebrating science and humanity within our various cultures internationally has been a resonant and transcendent pursuit.
In 1909, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, large celebrations honoring Darwin’s contributions to science and humanity were held in Cambridge, New York and New Zealand. The University of Chicago commemorated the 100th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1959 with a series of notable events from November 24 through the 28th. The 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth saw an entire season of BBC programming on Charles Darwin himself as well as evolution and natural selection. Salem State University has successfully held an annual Darwin Festival since 1980.
History of the Foundation
The organized movement to establish an annual International Darwin Day Celebration began with three Darwin enthusiasts: Dr. Robert Stephens, who motivated the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley to initiate an annual Darwin Day Celebration in 1995; Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, who similarly organized annual Darwin Day events at the University of Tennessee beginning in 1997; and Amanda Chesworth, who joined Stephens to officially incorporate the Darwin Day Program in New Mexico in 2000.
The Darwin Day Program was reincorporated two years later in California as the Darwin Day Celebration, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation promoting public education about science—and encouraging the celebration of science and humanity throughout the global community. The Darwin Day Celebration also established an Advisory Board of prominent scientists to provide assistance on questions of scientific importance.
In anticipation of Darwin’s bicentennial birthday on Feb.12th, 2009, the Darwin Day Celebration paired with the American Humanist Association to support the growth of Darwin Day activities. The American Humanist Association remains the lead agency charged with amplifying the International Darwin Day Foundation’s call for celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.