Human Origins

Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA

September 13 to December 13.

The John Bulow Campbell Library at Columbia Theological Seminary is one of the first seminary libraries to host this traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit will be open to the public, but small groups are asked to schedule a tour in advance by email at

Hours and Directions HERE

See the upcoming event opportunities below! Additional lectures and events are in planning for the following groups:


+Christian education directors

+Agnes Scott College

+school teachers

+and other community discussions open to the public

Upcoming Events on Human Origins

New Exhibit! Freedom vs. Order

New historical exhibit from the library archives! Learn more about James Woodrow (uncle of President Woodrow Wilson), a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in the 1880s and the controversy created around his teaching on evolution.

November 13: Wednesday Forum on Human Origins

The Smithsonian team will lead our usual Wednesday Forum in the Ellis Room, 11:00 am-12:15 pm. Open to the public.


November 13: Community Forum on Human Origins

The Smithsonian team will lead a “community forum” from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Room Harrington Center Chapel. Open to the public.

Presenters from the Smithsonian

Dr. Rick Potts is a paleoanthropologist and 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. With research fields in Kenya and China Rick’s research has sought to piece together the record of Earth’s environmental change and human adaptation. His ideas on how early humans responded to environmental instability have stimulated wide attention and new research in several scientific fields related to human evolution.

Dr. Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist and educator in the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program at the National Museum of Natural History.  Her research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating).  She leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts that includes managing the Program’s public programs, website content, social media, and exhibition volunteer training. Briana has more recently developed a research program in evolution education and science communication.

Dr. Connie Bertka is a planetary scientist with a Master of Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary where she teaches a course on Contemporary Issues in Science and Religion. From 2002-2008 she directed the Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Connie is the founder of Science & Society Resources, LLC, a science education and communication consultancy.  She is Co-chair of the Smithsonian Human Origins Program’s Broader Social Impacts Committee.

Rev. Dr. James Bradley Miller is a retired teaching elder of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the president of the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith.  He served as a minister in higher education at Michigan Technological University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University.  Along with Connie Bertka he co-chairs the Broader Social Impacts Committee of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Jessie East is the Branch Manager of the Library Center of the Springfield-Greene County Library District in Springfield MO.  Jessie was the Project Director for the grant which brought the Smithsonian’s “Exploring Human Origins:  What Does It Mean to Be Human” traveling exhibit to the Library Center.  She has served as resource for librarians hosting the traveling exhibit.

The Human Origins exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution was developed in partnership with the American Library Association and made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation with support from the Peter Buck Human Origins Fund at the Smithsonian. It has appeared at 19 public libraries across the country between April 2015 and April 2017. For more information about the exhibit, as well as events and conversations associated with it, visit the Smithsonian website at