Professor of History of Science, Queen's University Belfast
Paper: "Imagining a World without Darwin"
Peter J. Bowler is a historian of biology who has written extensively on the history of evolutionary thought, the history of the environmental sciences, and on the history of genetics. His 1984 book, Evolution: The History of an Idea is a standard textbook on the history of evolution, and was substantially revised in 2003. His 1992 book The Eclipse of Darwinism: Anti-Darwinian Evolution Theories in the Decades Around 1900 describes the scientific and social challenges to Darwinism which led many to abandon the theory in the first part of the twentieth century.
Peter Bowler holds a BA from the University of Cambridge an MSc from the University of Sussex and a PhD from the University of Toronto. In the 1970s he taught at the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. He is currently a professor in the history of science at Queen's University Belfast, and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a corresponding member of the Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences. He was President of the British Society for the History of Science 2004-6.
His current interests are in the development and implications of Darwinism, the history of the environmental sciences, science and religion (especially twentieth century), and popular science writing. Current research is on the production of popular science literature in early twentieth-century Britain, with particular emphasis on the role played by professional scientists.
Professor Bowler has been a vocal critic of creationism in Northern Ireland. He has made numerous appearances on local radio, including interviews with William Crawley on BBC Radio Ulster shows 'TalkBack' and 'Sunday Sequence' - here he defended evolution and highlighted the non-scientific nature of creationism.