Johannes Frederik Johnstrup (1818-94)

Professor of mineralogy and geology 1866-94, MSc Polytechnical College 1844, teacher at Sorø Academy 1846-65, rector of the university 1881-82.   

Frederik Johnstrup introduced modern geology such as the theory of ice ages at the University. His acceptance of evolutionary geology did not, however, make him embrace Charles Darwin’s theory of organic evolution. Like his colleague, the professor of zoology Japetus Steenstrup, he never became an evolutionist. In his address as rector of the university in 1882, Johnstrup made clear his scientific and religious reservations towards Darwinism, and he warned against the uncritical teaching of its doctrines at the university. At this time a new generation of naturalists such as the zoologist J.E.V. Boas and the botanist Eugen Warming had commenced applying Darwinian concepts in their research. Ironically, Johnstrup’s address was published on the same page as Darwin’s obituary in the conservative newspaper Dagbladet on 21 April 1882.

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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