University News

Human Diversity Exhibit at Western's Malpass Library

October 1, 2002

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MACOMB, IL-- "Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival " -- Rene Dubos, 1910.

Western Illinois University's Leslie F. Malpass Library is showcasing human diversity in a special exhibit now through the end of Spring 2003. The exhibition, “All of Us Are Related, Each of Us Is Unique,” is on display on the fifth and sixth levels of the Malpass Library. On Monday, Oct. 7 from 4-6 p.m. a reception will be held in the Library's Garden Lounge in honor of the exhibit, featuring self-guided tours and a videotape presentation.

The exhibit consists of 18 panels portraying the complexity of human diversity all over the world. The idea for human diversity panels originated at the Musee de le ‘homme in Paris and then were produced by the Laboratory of Biological Anthropology at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. The panels displayed at the Malpass Library were constructed under the leadership of Marshall Segall at Syracuse University.

According to Allie Goudy, library development coordinator, the exhibit illustrates that while humans are unique, they are biologically similar. The exhibit was brought to WIU through the efforts of College of Arts and Sciences, the department of education and interdisciplinary studies, the Office of the Provost and University Libraries.

“The exhibit shows that while an individual is genetically different to someone else, another person chosen at random would possess many of the same genetic material,” Goudy said.

Bem Allen, psychology professor calls the exhibit "informative and uplifting."

“Basically the message that we’re emphasizing is that even though we’re different, we’re all related somehow,” he said.

The panels also show the routes our ancestors took to migrate to other countries. Allen said as indicated by the exhibit, Finnish descendants are more Asian, while the French may have descended from the Cro-Magnons of Africa.

“Some very well-respected modern geneticists are beginning to speak out about the lack of scientific evidence for the notion of race,” he added.

Allen said that one scientist working to specify the human genome estimated that if two people were selected from widely separated parts of the globe, they would share 99.9 percent of their genes.

“Unless you have an identical twin or someday you are cloned, genetically you are truly one-of a-kind, but you are still related to everyone else. If we can truly appreciate this fact, perhaps in the future we will be reluctant to wage war on our relatives,” he said.

The public is invited to the Oct. 7 reception and to view the panels throughout the year. For more information, contact Allie Goudy at 309/298-2039 or at

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