• Description

  • Human Nature-- ANTH 2105

    Winter 2017

    Prof. Dean Saitta

    MW 12:00-1:50

    Sturm Hall 154

    The concept of human nature is widely used in our culture.  It is used to explain many different aspects of human behavior including altruism, selfishness, gender roles, family structure, sexual behavior, warfare, and a multitude of phobias.  Because the concept of human nature roots human behavior in an unchanging biology it is a very powerful concept in Western life.  And, like any source of power, the concept can be put to sinister uses; e.g., by justifying the biological "naturalness" of inequalities that are social and cultural in origin.

    This course uses the question of "what is human nature?" to explore the field of biological anthropology.  Biological anthropology is that part of anthropology which investigates the nature and sources of human biological variation through space and time.  We take a scientific, evolutionary perspective on the origin and development of human biological and behavioral differences, including differences between humankind and other life forms, differences between the various human “races”, and differences between human males and females.  We will also explore the social and political uses to which the concept of "human nature" has been put in our culture.  By using knowledge from biological anthropology to think critically about the human condition, the course promotes scientific literacy and general education.

  • Required Text

  • Marks, Alternative Introduction
    Marks, Alternative Introduction
  • Course Syllabus

  • Syllabus, Winter 2017

  • Required Readings

  • January 18: Park, chapter 3 (Evolutionary Genetics)

  • January 18: Park, chapter 4 (Processes of Evolution)

  • February 13 & 15: Park, chapter 10 (Evolution of the Early Hominids)

  • February 13 & 15: Park, chapter 11 (Evolution of the Genus Homo)

  • February 20: Edgar, The Powers of Two

  • February 22: Adler, One of the Family?

  • February 27: Kristof, Our Biased Brains

  • March 6: Magalhaes, Our Inner Caveman

  • March 8: Massey, Humans May Be the Most Adaptive Species

  • Course Handouts

  • Genetic Variation

  • Midterm Exam Review: Study Questions for Marks

  • Midterm Exam Review: Concepts from Class and Slide Shows

  • "Tales of the Human Dawn" Handout

  • Evolutionary Psychology Handout

  • Course Assignments

  • Assignment #2: Paleoanthropology Lab

  • Assignment #3: Final Research Paper

  • Course Slide Shows

  • Week 2: Pre-Darwinian Thought

  • Week 2: Darwin's Revolution, Part 1 (Galapagos)

  • Week 3: Darwin's Revolution, Part 2 (England)

  • Week 4: Evolutionary Processes

  • Week 4: Primates 1-- Background

  • Week 4: Primates 2-- Prosimians and Monkeys

  • Week 5: Primates 3-- Apes

  • Week 5: Primate Evolution

  • Week 6: Paleoanthropology as Story Telling

  • Week 6: Skull Lab Prep 1

  • Week 6: Skull Lab Prep 2

  • Week 8: What Were Our Ancestors Like?

  • Week 8: Images of Neanderthal 1

  • Week 8: Images of Neanderthal 2

  • Week 9: Concept of Race

  • Week 9: Biological Determinism

  • Week 10: Visions of Human Nature/Evolutionary Psychology

This portfolio last updated: 07-Mar-2017 4:40 AM