“Journey of the Universe,” a documentary produced by two faculty members with joint appointments in the Divinity School and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, will premiere nationwide Saturday evening on PBS.
The film and its companion book explores the origins of the universe, the emergence of life and the rise of humans, said executive producer Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forestry School senior lecturer and senior research scholar and Divinity School professor of comparative religion and ecology. Tucker added that the plan was to make a “beautiful and engaging” film that would give viewers a sense of awe about the world around them. The film, she said, aims to take ideas from modern science and weave them together as a story to engage the public about how science explains the each stage of the evolutionary process.
The film is the result of a 30-year collaboration between Tucker and the late cultural historian Thomas Berry, evolutionary philosopher Brian Swimme and fellow executive producer John Grim, Forestry School and Divinity School senior lecturer and scholar, who is married to Tucker.
“The book and film offer a comprehensive framework to address the daunting ecological and social challenges of our times,” Forestry School Dean Peter Crane said in a Nov. 23 press release.
Inspiration for the “Journey of the Universe” project, Tucker said, came from an article written by cultural historian Thomas Berry. In his article, Berry stressed the need for an integrated understanding of evolution with culture, values and a larger sense of human purpose, said Tucker.
Swimme, the documentary’s narrator, said his motivation for making the film came from his desire to share his astonishment about the creation of the universe.
“In my own personal experience it is simply difficult, if not altogether impossible, to learn these facts and not be filled with a desire to share them with others,” he said.
In addition to the documentary, an educational video series was also made in which Tucker conducted a series of interviews to deepen viewers’ understanding of the creation of the universe and to learn more about the work being conducted in fields like ecology, economics and agriculture.
Tucker said the documentary and book have been “warmly received” by several prominent ecologists. She added that groups have expressed interest in using the film for high school and college education as well as discussions in religious community groups. There are also ongoing plans to broadcast the film, which has already been shown in Europe, in countries such as India, China and South America, she said.
WNET Channel 13 in New York City will broadcast the film on Dec. 7 at 8:00 pm.