Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) is now mostly known as the co-discoverer of natural selection, the man in Darwin’s shadow. But at the time of his death in 1913 at age 90 he was probably the world’s most famous scientist. He contributed richly to our understanding of the mechanisms of evolution, humanity’s place in nature, the impact of behavior on evolution, the rise of societies and the quest for meaning and purpose in human life. Wallace was both a ‘naturalistic’ scientist and a strong believer in progressively ‘guided’ human evolution, a dissenter from the mainstream materialism of Victorian culture, yet not, as recently claimed, a founder of contemporary ID either.
The Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary Project is a suite of programs designed to build on the enthusiasm for Wallace being generated by a range of (unrelated) projects celebrating the 100th anniversary of his death, with the goal of making his contributions more well known to contemporary audiences. Wallace's perspectives can enrich current thinking on biological processes, especially evolution, biogeography, and the rise of uniquely human characteristics and their significance. During the week of the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death, the centenary projects will begin with a major public conference and program on November 12, 2013 at the American Museum of Natural History -- five days after the anniversary of Wallace’s death on November 7, 1913. After the initial celebratory conference, the project will run for three years and will provide exhibits, lectures, and publications to foster an enduring engagement with his ideas.
Outputs include public conferences, internet global dialogues, a book that anthologizes the public talks, two special Wallace-themed periodical issues of Skeptic and Natural History magazines, guest-edited by the PL (Project Leader), the Wallace Correspondence project, an upgrade for the main website on Wallace, and enhancements to three public education programs.