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Your Inner Fish Penn Reading Project book for 2008-09—Year of Evolution
April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30


Inner Fish

The Provost, the Council of Undergraduate Deans, and the Office of College Houses and Academic Services are pleased to announce that Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion-Year History of the Human Body will be the text for the 2008-09 Penn Reading Project (PRP), a program that is part of the Year of Evolution. On Sunday afternoon, August 31, 2008, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders will join together to discuss the book as part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2012. Earlier in the day, Dr. Shubin, who was on the Penn faculty in biology from 1989 to 2000, and was the founding Faculty Master in Hamilton (now Rodin) College House, will address the incoming class and discussion leaders. 

The path leading to Your Inner Fish, which was published in 2008, began two years earlier, when Dr. Shubin, a renowned paleontologist and anatomy professor, discovered “Tiktaalik,” a prehistoric crocodile-like animal that may represent a missing link in the tree of life. In Your Inner Fish, he continues his exploration of evolution as he investigates fundamental questions of origins, development, and human existence. The book is both fact-filled and accessible to the non-scientist. It is also a kind of diary of his research, and a celebration of the pleasures and excitement that surround academic pursuits. Oliver Sacks said of Your Inner Fish that it is “…an intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story, one which will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.” 

The choice of this year’s PRP book also reflects Penn’s commitment to the Year of Evolution, a commemoration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday that also examines the concept of change across many disciplines. Among the participating entities are the Penn Museum, many Penn departments and programs, and other Philadelphia cultural organizations, including the Academy of Natural Sciences. Year of Evolution programs will include lectures and symposia with celebrated scholars Janet Browne, Donald Johanson, Kenneth R. Miller and others, and the exhibition Surviving: The Body of Evidence at the Penn Museum, see www.yearofevolution.org.

PRP, now in its 18th year, was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn. Information about the Penn Reading Project and its history can be found at: www.collegehouses.upenn.edu/prp/.

Faculty members in all 12 schools are invited to take part as PRP discussion leaders. A copy of the text will be sent to discussion leaders and students in July, along with additional information about the Reading Project. If you wish to sign up, you may go directly to the database: www.rescomp.upenn.edu/prpleaders. (If you registered last year, you can simply update your information–and also indicate if you’ll participate in this year’s prep session and lectures.)

For more information, please contact: David Fox, director, PRP; or Michael DeAngelis, coordinator, PRP, (215) 573-5636, dfox@english.upenn.edu or (215) 898-5037 jmdeange@exchange.upenn.edu.

Related: Surviving: The Body of Evidence



Almanac - April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30