Annual Short Course Each year, typically in the spring, UCMP hosts a short course on topics in paleontology for general audiences. This page describes short courses offered in recent years. Activities take place in Berkeley, California. Registration is required, and space is limited. Dates for upcoming short courses can be found on our Upcoming Events page two to three months in advance.

If you are interested in receiving e-mail notification of short courses and lectures, please send e-mail to:


The Implications of Evolution: Evidence and Applications
On Saturday, February 10, 2007, come learn about current research in evolutionary biology, including behavior and defense, primate evolution, and coevolution and its impact on biodiversity. Click the link to find out more.


California on Shaky Ground
Crack in Memorial Stadium Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the short course began with geologists and seismologists discussing the Bay Area’s seismic history, advances in earthquake science, the threat of tsunamis, and what’s being done to better understand how earthquakes work. On Sunday, a special workshop for teachers included a series of practical, standards-based, hands-on activities appropriate for grades six and higher. Teachers also took a campus tour to see evidence of movement on the Hayward Fault, such as this crack in Memorial Stadium (right).


Revisiting the Uniqueness that is California
Jere Lipps with group at the Golden Gate Bridge Due to the popularity of 2004's short course theme, we decided to stay with it. New speakers spoke on new topics, such as California's seismic origins, dinosaurs, sharks, terrestrial vertebrates, and redwood ecology. On Sunday, Jere Lipps explained the major geological processes responsible for producing our local landforms and the diverse biological communities that they support during a geologic tour of the Bay Area.


The Uniqueness that is California
David Howell This course featured a one-day series of speakers, each sharing their research as it relates to the uniqueness of California — its geology, paleontology, biodiversity, and peoples. An optional field trip led by David Howell of the USGS gave an interesting perspective on the connections between geology and climate and the production of the wonderful wines of the Napa Valley.


The Evolution Solution
Orca This course focused on a series of case studies illustrating the importance of evolution in our understanding of biodiversity and behavior, as well as its relevance to our society. Topics ranged from the evolutionary "baggage" exemplified by marine mammals, to evolutionary strategies used by plants to cope with changing CO2 levels, and the origin of modern humans and the evolution of their behavioral advances.


Back to the Future: The History of the San Francisco Bay
2002 Bay Cruise This two-day course focused on the past, present, and future of the San Francisco Bay, including geology, ecology, and human impacts. Saturday's lecutures touched on sea level fluctuations, geologic processes, and much more. A Sunday cruise on the Bay offered participants an opportunity to see many of the features discussed during the lectures, including the wonderful layers of sedimentary graywacke on Yerba Buena Island (right).


Tracking the Course of Evolution
Short Course participants About 200 participants enjoyed a comprehensive look at the evolution of life on Earth. Saturday's lectures, for a general audience, covered a variety of topics from microbes to plants to evolution and systematics. Sunday's presentations targeted classroom teachers, including a discussion with scientists, teaching strategies and hands-on activities.

1999 "Original" Thoughts: Interpreting the Evidence for Origins and Evolution
This two-day short course focused on a series of lectures on Saturday covering the origins of life, the Cambrian Explosions, the challenges of terrestriality, novel structures, adaptation, and the origin of human social bonds. Sunday provided a series of hands-on activities appropriate for grades 6-12 on associated subjects. (Offered in March)

1997 Our Pleistocene Heritage
This two-day short course focused on a series of lectures on Saturday covering the geology, fauna and flora of California 1.8 million to 11,000 years ago. This was followed by a Sunday field trip viewing Pleistocene sites in both Marin and Sonoma counties. (Offered in February)

Biodiversity, Past and Present
A series of lectures on different perspectives on diversity that went beyond the buzzwords, the tree-hugging, the sloganeering, and the doomsaying — to the science itself. Topics included: diversity through time, extinctions as a natural process, the myth of stability of communities, conservation decisions and case studies. (Offered in November)

1996 UCMP Anniversary Lecture Series
  • Our Earliest Ancestors: New Discoveries from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia — Professor Tim White (October)
  • Keeping House and Minding the Store: Seashells, Museums and How they Contribute to Our Understanding of Economics — Professor Geerat Vermeij (November)
  • The Decline of Reason: Science, Pseudoscience and Antiscience in America — Professor Jere H. Lipps (December)

    A Symposium on Origins
    This series of lectures focused on origins and evolution — from that of the Universe, to the Solar System and the Earth, and then to the origin of life in general, animals, plants, humans, and even life beyond Earth. (Offered in December)

  • 1995 Tracking the Course of Evolution
    This inaugural two-day short course focused on a series of lectures on both Saturday and Sunday covering the Precambrian life, adaptations, dinosaur evolution and extinction, origin of mammals and the evolution of humankind. The lectures were interspersed with tours of the collections, slide shows, demonstrations of web-based resources, and hands-on activities. (Offered in December)
    Updated November 9, 2006
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