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1 Proposal: number 120

120. BIOL 025: Biological Evolution

Contact:Karl Fath
Authors:PoKay Ma
Karl Fath
Corinne Michels
Abstract:Bio. 025 (Biological Evolution) fulfills the PLAS course requirements in the
area of the Natural Sciences. The course leads students to explore evolutionary
theory as a unifying biological concept, and to understand how biological
evolution differs from religious and cultural interpretations of life and its
origins. In line with the dictum of influential 20th century
evolutionist/geneticist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, that “Nothing in biology makes
sense except in the light of evolution”, students explore evolutionary
principles as a means of understanding the structure and adaptations of diverse
life forms, including humanity itself. The course is presented from a
self-aware perspective, investigating the human capacity for complex thought
and the advent of culture as facets of an increasingly complex brain.
Discussion of the quest for understanding as an essential component of the
human mind, addresses a central theme in liberal arts education. The course
concludes with a consideration of the link between human biological evolution
and cultural evolution, providing deeper insights into social and moral
behaviors, and the phenomenon of war. Students examine evolutionary theory
through textbook readings, Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, class
discussions, and original library research (which culminates in a written
report on a topic of particular interest to the individual student). Students
also write responses to passages from The Origin of Species, providing
opportunity to formulate and articulate views on the meaning of change and
adaptation, and to understand Darwin’s landmark book in a historical context.
The course encourages students to consider the interrelationships between life
forms - past and present, and how human cultural evolution is impacting on the
future of all life on earth.

Submissions and Approvals

Course Date Requirement Action By Whom Notes
BIOL 025 2008-12-02 NS Submitted Dept
BIOL 025 2009-04-01 NS Approved GEAC
BIOL 025 2009-05-07 NS Approved UCC
BIOL 025 2009-09-10 NS Approved Senate