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1 Proposal: number 9

9. ANTH 102: Introduction to Human Evolution

Contact:Sara Stinson
Abstract:Evolution is one of the central, unifying theories of biological science. In
1973, Theodore Dobzhansky, one of the most influential figures in evolutionary
biology, wrote “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
evolution.” This course pursues an integrative approach to the study of human
evolution. Situating humans within the animal kingdom as members of the Primate
Order, students are introduced to evolution from multiple perspectives:
molecular genetics, population genetics, and the fossil record; on multiple
levels, including molecular, organismic, population, species, and higher order
taxonomic units. This class also relates the theory of evolution to other
fields of scientific inquiry: biological systematics, ethology, morphology,
biomechanics, and geology.
The course is designed to achieve PLAS goals as follows:
1. To demonstrate how biological anthropology and evolutionary biology create
knowledge and understanding, this course introduces the students to the
scientific method and its role in developing our understandings of how
evolution has shaped our species and produced biological variation among modern
humans. This course aims to make students aware of the investigative roles of
observation, construction and testing of research hypotheses, experimental
design, and data analysis.
2. To position biological anthropology and evolutionary biology within the
liberal arts and the larger society, using human evolution as a central theme.
Liberal arts refer to a college or university curriculum aimed at imparting
general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities in contrast to
a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. This course illustrates
how core biological concepts relate to our understanding of the origins of our
species, as well as exposing the connections between humans and non-human
primates. Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the ways in which
scientists learn about human evolution and the significance of human evolution
for understanding humans today.
3. To introduce students to a body of knowledge at the core of the natural
sciences: the biological basis of life, the basics of cell biology and
molecular genetics, Mendelian genetics, population genetics, systematics,
molecular phylogeny, cladistic analysis, behavioral studies, biomechanics, and
analysis of the fossil record.
4. To enhance quantitative reasoning among students through assignments that
employ quantitative exercises in the context of evolutionary theory.
5. To introduce students to the primary sources of literature on human
evolution and other primary materials such as the skeletons of non-human
primates and replicas of fossils related to human evolution.
6. To reveal the existence and importance of change through time, the natural
processes that result in biological change across the generations are the
primary focus of this course. The course discusses how natural selection,
mutations, gene flow, and genetic drift result in biological change over time.
The course also examines the fossil record as a direct source of evidence of
biological change.
7. To illuminate diversity, as well as the nature and construction of forms of
difference, this course considers how the forces of evolution have shaped
biological variation in modern humans and examines how environmental variation
around the world, as well as the distribution of pathogens, has affected
stature and body proportions, pigmentation, and the distribution of other
heritable traits in different human populations.

Submissions and Approvals

Course Date Requirement Action By Whom Notes
ANTH 102 2008-03-01 NS Submitted Dept
ANTH 102 2008-03-05 NS Approved GEAC
ANTH 102 2008-04-10 NS Approved UCC
ANTH 102 2008-05-08 NS Approved Senate