Evolution, Sex, & Human Nature

Course description (FYS 119). For more than 3.5 billion years, life has been evolving on our planet, giving rise to an astonishing diversity of animals, plants, and microbes. While evidence for life’s evolution is overwhelming, the extent to which Darwin’s principle of natural selection explains particular features of the human species remains controversial. In this seminar, we shall explore the phenomena and major events that have shaped the history of life and our own species. In particular, we will focus on controversial usage of evolutionary ideas to explain attributes of human nature, including different “reproductive strategies” of males and females, as well as human health problems, dietary preferences, and physical diversity. Classes will focus on discussions, videotapes, and brief student presentations. Students also can count on a weekend field trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and other excursions, as time and interests permit.