Where did we come from? What is consciousness? Are we alone in the universe?

These profound questions have broad significance to all members of our community. From a scientific and philosophical perspective, the origin of life and the evolutionary progression leading to the emergence of human intelligence represents one of the most fundamental questions of our time.

Over the ages, a series of scientific revolutions have changed the way we think about ourselves and the universe in which we live. We are currently poised at the threshold of just such a revolution concerning our origins. Recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the origin of life and the spectacular discovery of thousands of extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars in our galaxy has made our fall 2012 President’s Dream Colloquium on the emergence and complexity of life timely and exciting.

In this website, the students enrolled in the course present an overview and summary of the four main themes covered in this course and series of lectures:

This information has been synthesized by the highly interdiscipinary group of students from their readings and discussions of the primary and secondary literature, from their attendance and questions at six lectures by renowned experts in these areas, and following discussions with each other, with faculty associated with the course, and with the invited speakers. It represents the final project for the students enrolled in this President's Dream Colloquium course.

We hope you will find the content interesting, illuminating, and thought-provoking.  If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to view the full videos recorded of the SFU lectures, to explore the suggested literature readings, and to join us at Simon Fraser University for study, for research, for lectures, and for academic discussion.