Origins of Human Cooperation Topic of Page-Barbour Lectures

September 30, 2010

September 29, 2010 — Michael Tomasello, a developmental psychologist, will present the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' annual Page-Barbour Lectures Oct. 13 through 15 on "The Origins of Human Cooperation."

Each lecture begins at 4 p.m. in room 203 of the Physics Building at the University of Virginia, with a reception in Gilmer Hall to follow.

Tomasello, co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, researches language development in children and communication among great apes. In his 2009 book, "Why We Cooperate," he proposes that cooperation is a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior. He also posits that linguistic structures developed, and are learned, through social interaction with others rather than simply being innate.

His three talks will cover "Origins of Human Collaboration and Shared Intentionality," "Origins of Human Altruism" and "Origins of Human Cooperative Communication."

The Page-Barbour Lectures were founded in 1907 by Mrs. Thomas Nelson Page. The lectures, which may address any field in the arts and sciences, are to present "some fresh aspect or aspects of the department of thought."

Past lecturers include such luminaries as President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft; poets T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden; writer Wole Soyinka; philosophers John Dewey and Richard Rorty; and psychologists B.F. Skinner and Robert Coles.

For information, contact Walter Jost, who heads the lectures committee, at wpj@virginia.edu, or Kristina Meshelski, assistant to the Page-Barbour and Richard Lectures Committee, at kkm4s@virginia.edu.

— By Anne Bromley