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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Steven M. Goodreau
BIO A 382
Seattle Campus

Human Population Biology

Explores human fertility and mortality, and their relationships to the size and structure of populations through time. Emphasizes the biological and cultural determinants of these life course events in evolutionary perspective. Introduces the quantitative tools needed to understand these phenomena, including formal demography, epidemiology, and population genetics. Prerequisite: BIO A 201.

Class description

Human population biology is at the core of many of the most pressing issues facing the human species today: overpopulation, the changing age structure of economically developed societies, cross-cultural differences in mortality, and emerging infectious diseases, to name just a few. This course will explore the relationships between these population-level phenomena and events in the individual lifecourse. Insights from evolutionary theory (both biological and cultural) will be emphasized throughout. Students will obtain an overview of some of the many sets of tools needed to understand these phenomena, including demography, epidemiology, and population genetics. Students should develop a qualitative understanding of the theoretical issues involved as well as an ability to analyze these issues using quantitative methods.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture and some interactive/group work.

Recommended preparation

A general familiarity with biological concepts, especially evolutionary theory. A general comfort with mathematical concepts is also helpful, especially basic probability and calculus. (We will review these briefly at the beginning of the quarter).

Class assignments and grading

There will be four problem sets during the course and one final exam.

Problem sets: Each problem set will be handed out during lecture and will be due one week later. Problem sets will include both quantitative problems and short written answers. They are designed to help you integrate the material we have covered. They may be worked on collectively, since collective problem solving (if done properly) can lead to some of the deepest learning. If you work in a group, please indicate your work partner(s) on your paper. Each of you should hand in a separate answer set, which you will be graded on separately. Please do not work in groups larger than 3 or 4. You may also use any books or notes you wish.

Problem sets 15% each x 4 = 60% Final 35% Class Participation 5%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
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Last Update by Steven M. Goodreau
Date: 09/10/2003