Orion Township Public Library hosts “Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?”

Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?,

a national traveling exhibition exploring the complex field of human evolution research, will be on display at the Orion Township Public Library from Saturday, July 30 to Monday, August 22.
Through panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos, Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human? invites audiences to explore milestones in the evolutionary journey of becoming human — from walking upright, creating technology and eating new foods, to brain enlargement and the development of symbolic language and complex societies — advancements that define the unique position of humans in the history of life.
Based on the Smithsonian’s What Does It Mean to Be Human? permanent exhibition hall at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human? seeks to shed light on what we know about human origins and how we know it. The exhibition welcomes different cultural perspectives on evolution and seeks to foster positive dialogue and a respectful exploration of the science.
“The topic of human evolution can be controversial, and we are proud that Orion Township Public Library can help encourage a constructive, informative discussion on the subject,” said Karen Knox, director. “We encourage people of all beliefs to explore the exhibition, as it delves into human origins in a way that is understandable, fulfilling, captivating and relevant.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of free library programs, including presentations by Smithsonian scientists.  For more details visit orionlibrary.org.
Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human? was organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the American Library Association. This project was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and support from the Peter Buck Human Origins Fund.
The Orion Township Public Library is located at 825 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion, MI 48362. The exhibition is free and open to the public during library hours, 9:30a-9:00p Monday through Thursday and 9:30a-5:00p Friday and Saturday.  For more information and a schedule of events visit orionlibrary.org or contact Beth Sheridan, head of adult services, at 248-693-3000 x332 or sheridan@orionlibrary.org.

Schedule of Events:
“What Does it Mean to Be Human?” Art Show
July 30-August 22
In conjunction with the Orion Art Center, we would like to invite artists of ALL AGES to enter artwork depicting their interpretation of “What does it mean to be human”? Enter your artwork by July 25 to the library, and be entered into a drawing for a participation prize! Art will be displayed in the library during the exhibit.
Human Evolution and Environmental Change
Wednesday, August 3 @ 7:00p
The evolution of humans is deeply connected with changes in their surrounding environment. Climate changes over the past few million years have affected hydrological and seasonal cycles and influenced the distribution of humans and other species used as food by ancient hunters and gatherers. Lead by experts in the field from Oakland University, we will explore these past trends and see how they apply to future challenges.
Official Exhibit Opening:  An Evening of Science
Saturday, August 6 @ 7:00p
Join Dr. Rick Potts, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist and curator of the Exploring Human Origins traveling exhibit, as he explores the main themes and messages of the traveling exhibit. The talk and following conversation will explore how fossils, archeological remains, and genetic studies shed light on our connection with the natural world and the origins of sharing, caring, and innovation.
Exploring Human Origins Educators Workshop
Monday, August 8, 10:00a-1:00p
This workshop is for classroom teachers; science, nature center and museum educators, homeschoolers, and other local educators. Dr. Briana Pobiner, who leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts, and Dr. Connie Bertka, co-chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s Broader Social Impacts Committee, will present a workshop on human evolution for science educators. It will feature exploration and hands-on practice in presenting the Human Origins Program resources provided for each community. These resources include a set of five early human skull casts with an accompanying classroom activity, classroom-tested, high-school biology teaching units.
Exploring the Meanings of Human Evolution? A Community Conversation
Monday, August 8 @ 7:00p
How do scientific discoveries about human origins relate to people’s personal understanding of the world and their place in it?  Join Dr. Connie Bertka and Dr. Jim Miller of the Smithsonian Institution’s Broader Social Impacts Committee as they encourage a community conversation about human evolution that helps us to understand each other’s perspectives. They will be joined by Dr. Rick Potts and Dr. Briana Pobiner from the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program.
Clergy Tour and Discussion
Tuesday, August 9 @ 9:00a
This is a dedicated, private time for clergy to view the exhibit while the library is not open to the public.  Dr. Rick Potts and Dr. Briana Pobiner, Smithsonian paleoanthropologists, will join the clergy in the exhibit space to discuss any questions clergy may have about the exhibit’s presentation of the science of human origins. The co-chairs of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program’s Broader Social Impacts Committee, Dr. Connie Bertka and Dr. Jim Miller, will facilitate a discussion among the attending clergy regarding questions the exhibit may raise for their religious communities. A reception will follow. To register, call 248-693-3001.
Book discussions
Monday, August 15 @ 7:00p
Summer for the God: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science And Religion by Edward Larson
Monday, August 22 @ 7:00p
Your Inner Fish, by Neil Schubin
What is Archaeology?
Wednesday, August 17 @ 7:00p
Join Oakland University Professor Mike Pytlik, who leads OU students on annual archaeological digs in Israel, as he presents slides and artifacts from those exciting excavations. Find out how archaeologists know what they know!

Scientist Bio’s:
Dr. Rick Potts is a paleoanthropologist who directs the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where he also holds the Peter Buck Chair in Human Origins. Since joining the Smithsonian in 1985, Dr. Potts has dedicated his research to piecing together the record of Earth’s environmental change and human adaptation. Dr. Potts received his Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Harvard University in 1982, after which he taught anthropology at Yale University and served as curator of physical anthropology at the Yale Peabody Museum. Dr. Potts is curator of both The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the traveling exhibition “Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?”

Dr. Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist and educator in the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program and will be traveling to several of the libraries hosting “Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?” Dr. Pobiner leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts.

Dr. Connie Bertka holds a Ph.D. in Geology from Arizona State University and a M.T.S., Master of Theological Studies, from Wesley Theological Seminary. She is currently an independent scholar and consultant with Science and Society Resources, LLC. She is the Co-Chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program’s Broader Social Impacts Committee. In addition to her research in planetary sciences, Dr. Bertka has had a long-term scholarly and pragmatic interest in the relationships between science and religion and their influence on the public’s understanding of science.
Rev. James Bradley Miller, PhD, is the president of the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith.  He is an honorably retired ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and a Ph.D. in theology from Marquette University. Rev. Miller is currently serves as co-chair of the Broader Social Impacts Committee of the Human Origins Initiative at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Dr. Fabia U. Battistuzzi holds a Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology and Astrobiology from Pennsylvania State University and is an assistant professor at Oakland University. The aim of Dr. Battistuzzi’s research is to understand when and how species have evolved and investigate the connections between their genetic innovations and variations in environmental conditions. Among all species, microbes span the largest duration of Earth history and are extremely metabolically and ecologically diverse. These characteristics make them a powerful resource to investigate evolutionary mechanisms over long (billions of years) and short (millions of years) timescales while tracing the origin of important ecological innovations such as pathogenicity and the origin of infectious diseases.

Dr. Mike Pytlik, Director of Judaic Studies, teaches The Archaeology of Israel, God Through Jewish History, Written Tradition of Judaism, Intro. to Judaism, and Monotheistic Mysticism. He is a frequent traveler to Israel, and has participated in several excavations in Israel. Since 2009 he has organized and leads a group of OU students to Israel for a tour and excavation field school. He is interested in the formation of the Israelite state, the development of the synagogue, Jewish Theology, Hebrew and the archaeology of Israel. He is very active in the Jewish community, is involved in Christian and Muslim Jewish dialogue groups. Mike is also the current faculty adviser for the Jewish Student Organization on campus. Mike holds a Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies from Spertus College, as well as a masters in Jewish Studies and a bachelor’s degree in History.