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Haverford College

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Charles Darwin, Edward Drinker Cope, and the Evolution of the Natural Sciences at Haverford College

When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of natural selection as the means by which organisms evolve, his solution was but one of many to excite (and trouble) the minds of scientists and the public alike. Another scientist who gravitated toward an earlier evolutionary theory was Edward Drinker Cope, the Quaker paleontologist who taught on and off at Haverford for several years in the last half of the nineteenth century. While Cope’s influence on Haverford included a growing emphasis on the professional teaching of the Natural Sciences, his evolutionary theories were not as influential as Darwin’s and eventually the theories of the British naturalist won out in scientific circles. At Haverford, the gradual acceptance of Darwin’s evolutionary theory was not the only aspect of scientific pedagogy to change over time. Indeed the methods of discovery, the materials of inquiry, and the purposes for such study would evolve dramatically over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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The intersection of College Lane and Coursey Road in front of the Cricket Pitch.

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