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Detailed Course Information


Fall 2013
Mar 24, 2018
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THE UNIQUELY HUMAN ANIMAL~Humans are undoubted members of the Animal Kingdom, yet most would agree that there are certain aspects of our consciousness that separate us from all other species. What defines Homo sapiens? Large brains? Bipedality? Tool use? Not one of those is unique to us. Does culture allow us to defy biological laws? It certainly doesn't appear that we make the best decisions to insure our fitness. This course will explore our ability to understand human behavior using fundamental biological principles recognized since the time of Darwin and Mendel. We will review basic genetics as a background for discussions that attempt to relate human behavior, however complex, to patterns observable in all other species, whether animal, plant, or prokaryote. Scientists are just now beginning to sort out how genes can directly influence behavior via complex biochemical pathways. We will investigate whether humans are in any way unique with regard to our interactions with each other and our environment, or if we too are programmed by our genes to act in predictable ways to solve the basic issues of survival. Topics such as kinship and marriage, law, learning, aggression, religion, ethics, and morality will be discussed. You will be relied upon for your ability to contribute to our daily debate, as well as your ability to articulate in a series of writing assignments the application of biological theory to human behavior. This course gives us the opportunity to examine our role in nature, particularly how differently individuals perceive that role based upon personal life history. Be prepared to do some soul searching regarding your place in the universe! Students will access material from the primary literature and will write in a variety of formats, including reflective essays and short fiction.
4.000 Credit hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Freshman Colloquium Department

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