• Description

  • ASEM 2420: THE CULTURED APE

    Winter 2020, TF 8:00-9:50, Sturm 154

    Instructor

    Prof. Dean Saitta

    Office Hours: T 10:00-11:00; also by appointment

    Office: Sturm Hall 105                        

    Office Phone: 303-871-2680

    Email: dsaitta@du.edu

    Course Description and Objectives

    For all of the human species’ evolutionary success and Space Age technological prowess we are in many ways still Stone Age people with minds, behavior patterns, and existential anxieties that aren’t that different from those of our distant human ancestors.  This Advanced Seminar will ask you to reflect a bit on change and continuity in human evolutionary history, and the consequences that the two have for life today.

    The course emerges from an interdisciplinary encounter between anthropology, psychology, evolutionary biology, and environmental science.   Fields of study known as Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Anthropology sit on the boundary between these disciplines.  The famous biologist E.O. Wilson, in his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, has described such fields as “borderland” or “hybrid” fields.  They deal with how contemporary human behavior is constrained by our heritage as evolved primates.  They question the standard social science and mainstream anthropological model of humans as “blank slates” who are primarily shaped by their social and cultural environments.  In other words, they view humans as “Cultured Apes.” 

    The course will challenge you to take seriously our bio-psychological heritage as evolved apes.  It will engage some of the “hot button” issues of our time—including war, inter-personal violence, gender inequality, gay marriage, religious belief, political affiliation and others—from an evolutionary perspective. We will explore how public policies relevant to the hot button issues of our time might be better developed from a position that is sensitive to humankind’s status as an evolved species, a position that might be termed an “Evolutionary Pragmatics”.  Thus, the course not only draws on the interdisciplinary encounter noted above, but also extends discussion in a way that invades the territory of sociology, political science, economics, ethical philosophy, women’s studies, and a number of other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. 

  • Course Materials

  • Research Paper Guidelines

  • List of Research Topics

  • Research Paper Prospectus

  • Course Assignments

  • Assignment #1

  • Assignment #2

  • Course Syllabus

  • Syllabus, Winter 2020

  • Course Readings

  • Course Slide Shows

  • Week 2: Apes, Part 1

  • Week 2: Apes, Part 2

  • Week 2: Chimpanzee Culture Research Update

  • Week 3: E.O. Wilson

This portfolio last updated: 24-Jan-2020 1:50 PM