Bryan D. Tilt
Comparison of various anthropological perspectives on the sources of variation in customs, values, and beliefs of human groups, including non-Western peoples and contemporary Americans.
One anthropologist noted that "culture is something which man interposes between himself and his environment in order to ensure his security and survival" (Carneiro 1968: 551). In fact, the field of anthropology has always been concerned, to one degree or another, with the ways that human societies adapt to, and extend, the limits placed upon them by the natural world.
The degree to which cultural traits are influenced by biology is a constant point of contention in anthropology and related fields. This is a debate that can be summed up by the following questions, which are the basis for this course:
This course will address all of these questions through readings, lectures, and discussions on the topics of genetics, cognition, gender, environmental conservation, and sharing behavior. We will seek to understand how humans make their way in the world by bringing both biological and cultural resources to the problems they confront.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This course requires students to read a substantial amount of material, to think critically about it, to write short response papers, to attend lectures, and to participate actively in class discussion.
A basic understanding of anthropological principles is recommended.
Class assignments and grading
Grades in the class will be calculated based on several short writing assignments, a mid-term exam, a final exam, and class participation.