• Description


    Spring 2016, MW 2:00-3:50, Sturm 154


    Prof. Dean Saitta

    Office Hours: TH 12:00-1:00; 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.  The course will ask you to reflect a bit on change and continuity in human evolutionary history, and the potentially lethal tension that the two have created.

    The course emerges from an interdisciplinary encounter between anthropology, psychology, evolutionary biology, and environmental science.   “Evolutionary Psychology” is a rapidly developing field of inquiry that sits on the boundary between, and draws inspiration from, each of these disciplines.  The famous biologist E.O. Wilson, in his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, has described such fields as “borderland” and “hybrid” disciplines.  Evolutionary Psychology deals with how contemporary human behavior is constrained by our heritage as evolved primates.  It questions 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, Evolutionary Psychology views humans as “cultured apes.” 

    The course will challenge you to take seriously our bio-psychological heritage as evolved apes.  It will engage what Steven Pinker describes as the “hot button” issues of our time—including war, inter-personal violence, gender inequality, gay marriage, religious belief, 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” that is also heavily informed by an Evolutionary Anthropology.  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. 

  • Required Text

  • Required Text: Stephen Pinker, The Blank Slate

  • Course Syllabus

  • Cultured Ape Syllabus, Spring 2016

  • Course Readings

  • March 28: Wilson, The Enlightenment Quest

  • March 30: Barash, Mysteries of Becoming Human

  • April 11: Boesch, Is Culture a Golden Barrier Between Human and Chimpanzee?

  • April 13: Diamond, A Tale of Three Chimps

  • April 13: Marks, 98% Alike?

  • April 13: Sapolsky, The 2% Difference

  • April 27: Diamond, The Evolution of Human Sexuality

  • April 27: McCaughey, Caveman Sex

  • May 2: Barash, The Myth of Monogamy

  • May 2: Fisher, The Four-Year Itch

  • May 4: Muscarella, The Evolution of Homoerotic Behavior

  • May 9: Konner, The End of Male Supremacy

  • May 9: Kalinowski, A Victory for Women at War

  • May 9: Pulley, Women in the Infantry?

  • May 11: Thornhill & Palmer, Why Men Rape

  • May 11: Coyne, Of Vice and Men

  • May 11: Tooby & Cosmides, Response to Coyne

  • May 16: Tuschman, Can Genes Predict Political Orientation?

  • May 18: Buss, Murder Is In Our Blood

  • May 18: Barash, Why People Kill

  • May 23: Smith, Human Morality and Evolution

  • May 25: Barkow, Biology is Destiny Only if We Ignore It

  • Reading Questions

  • Pinker, Chapters 1-5

  • Pinker, Chapters 6-11

  • Course Materials

  • Chimpanzee Culture Up-Date and Wrap-Up Outline

  • Biophobias and Envirophobias Outline

  • Evolutionary Psychology of Politics & Violence Outline

  • Morality and Evolutionary Pragmatics Outline

  • Course Assignments

  • Assignment #1

  • Research Paper Guidelines

  • Possible Research Paper Topics

  • Assignment #2

  • Research Paper Prospectus

  • Course Slide Shows

  • Evolutionary History, Part 1

  • Evolutionary History, Part 2

  • Evolutionary History, Part 3

  • Apes, Part 1

  • Apes, Part 2

  • How Different are Men and Women?

This portfolio last updated: 23-May-2016 1:51 PM