Extinction: Life on Earth & Human Impact
Professor Greg Cowper

This course will be held at the Fishtown Community Branch of the Free Library, located at 1217 E. Montgomery Ave. (just north of Girard Ave.), Philadelphia. 

No preregistration necessary. Register by attending the first course.


  1. Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Overview, Definitions, Setting the Stage

  2. Tuesday, October 7, 2014
    Geologic Time, Life on Earth, Evolution & Natural Selection

  3. Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    The 5 Mass Extinctions: End Ordovician, Late Devonian, End Permian, Late Triassic, End Cretaceous

  4. Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    The Sixth Mass Extinction: Anthropocene – Causes & Case Histories

  5. Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    Anthropocene Continued – Causes & Case Histories

  6. Tuesday, November 4, 2014
    Successes, Trends, Does Biodiversity Matter?

Course Description:

Extinction, that is, no members of a species are left alive, is a natural process that has been happening on earth since the beginning of life some 3.5 billion years ago. Across the history of life on earth there have been five mass extinctions in which a large proportion of all species have been lost. Many scientists today are in agreement that the earth is in the throes of a sixth great extinction--a mass extinction, the result of human activity. Building on discussion of extinction, evolution and speciation, this course will explore human impact on earth’s biodiversity through examination of historical examples, the results of habitat destruction, climate change and invasive species, and the way ahead.

Recommended reading:

Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction, An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2014.

Wilson, Edward O. The Diversity of Life. New York: Norton & Co., 1992.





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