The new issue of Origins is here.

David Christian’s new book, Origin Story, will be available on May 22.

Nivedita Nair opened the recent conference on big history at Symbiosis University’s School of Liberal Arts (SSLA) in Pune, Maharastra, India.

Anaga Krishna of the SSLA offers her Global Guideline for Humanity.

IBHA board member and Secretary Lucy Laffitte provides Snapchats from Maharashtra in March.

With its long standing commitment to the sciences and liberal arts, Villanova University is proud to host the 2018 IBHA conference. The building that houses a number of its science departments is named for Gregor Mendel, the nineteenth century Augustinian friar who is generally recognized as the founder of the modern science of genetics. In 1934, Villanova awarded its Mendel Medal to the Belgian Catholic priest Abbé Georges Lemaître, Ph.D., D.Sc. for his ground-breaking article on the primeval atom – what later became better known as the big bang. Astrophysicists have subsequently honed the beginning date for our universe at about 13.82 billion years ago. Big History begins with the “primeval atom” (even as we examine theories of the multiverse, cyclical universes, and other hypotheses). The 1937 Mendel Medal was awarded to Dr. (Rev.) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. for his work on key developments from the origin of the universe to the present and into the future. He argued that the universe had not been created originally as it is now, but that it evolved through stages. Big History investigates the periods of time from which there are transitions from one to the next. In 2008, the award went to the evolutionary biologist, Kenneth Miller. The Mendal Medal was given to Dr. George V. Coyne, S.J. in 2009, when he was the Director of the Vatican Observatory. His lecture at the award ceremony was an account that is familiar to big historians. Because of all of this, the IBHA conference enjoys the support of Villanova’s University President, Associate Vice Provost for Research, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dean of the Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Departments of Biology, Physics, and Astrophysics & Planetary Science, and the Campus Minister for Liturgical Music.

Please plan on participating in the 2018 IBHA conference, “Big History, Big Future: A Cosmic Perspective,” from July 26 to 29Get information about the conference hereOn-line registration is here.

  • Our plenary speaker to open the conference on Thursday evening, July 26, is Tyler Volk, who has just published Quarks to Culture: How we came to be. He argues for a universal natural rhythm—building from smaller things into larger, more complex things—resulted in a grand sequence of twelve fundamental levels across the realms of physics, biology, and culture. He introduces the key concept of “combogenesis,” the building-up from combination and integration to produce new things with innovative relations. He explores common themes in how physics and chemistry led to biological evolution, and biological evolution to cultural evolution. Volk also provides insights into linkages across the sciences and fields of scholarship, and presents an exciting synthesis of ideas along a sequence of things and relations, from physical to living to cultural. The resulting inclusive natural philosophy brings clarity to our place in the world, offering a roadmap for those who seek to understand big history and wrestle with questions of how we came to be.Tyler Volk is professor of biology and environmental studies at New York University and a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Golden Dozen Award. His books include Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind (Columbia, 1995); Gaia’s Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth (1998); and CO2 Rising: The World’s Greatest Environmental Challenge (2008).
  • Our after dinner speaker on Friday, July 27, will be Craig G. Benjamin, who is an Australian-American historian and Professor of History in the Frederik J. Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University, where he teaches East Asian civilization, big history, ancient Central Asian history, and world history historiography. Among his many publications is Big History: Between Nothing and Everything, co-authored with David Christian and Cynthia Brown.
  • The Main Line Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Don Liuzzi, will perform the Emergent Universe Oratorio at the conference on Saturday, July 28. This is the first ever presentation of the entire big history narrative put to music. All registered conference participants are invited to attend at no extra charge. Those who are not registered for the conference but still wish to attend the oratorio may purchase oratorio tickets here. We are already grateful to Villanova University and the American Teilhard Association for their generous support of the oratorio. Still, we need to ask you to please consider making a donation in support of the musicians, composer, and other expenses for the oratorio beyond those covered by ticket prices; we would like to recognize you and / or your work place in the concert program.
  • Artist Cami Davis will give expression to the meaning she finds in big history through the paintings of hers that will be exhibited at the IBHA conference.
Conference Housing is available on the Villanova University campus or in Philadelphia. Prices range from $50 a night per person to $169 per night plus tax. Pre and Post conference tours are available. You may extend your room reservations to give yourself time to visit some of the Philadelphia area’s cultural and historical sites.
Candidates for the IBHA board are David Christian, Dan May, and Barry Wood The election will be in June.

IBHA member Barry Wood has just reviewed Tyler Volk’s book, Quarks to Culture. Wood argues that Volk goes beyond current concepts of emergence, complexity, self-organization, and autopoiesis with a sustained and impressive presentation of “combogenesis,” his own term for the innovative creativity of the physical, biological, and cultural realms. Read the full review here.
Duane Elgin shares his view of Deep Big History.