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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Eric A Smith
BIO A 470
Seattle Campus

Evolution of Human Social Behavior

Key concepts, research strategies, and debates concerning the processes and outcomes of human behavioral evolution. Emphasizes the complementarily of various methods and theories for understanding human biocultural evolution, including behavioral ecology, dual transmission theory, phylogentic analysis, and evolutionary psychology. Prerequisite: BIO A 201.

Class description

This course surveys key concepts, research strategies, and debates concerning the processes and results of biocultural evolution. "Biocultural" refers to the joint influence of genetic and cultural systems of inheritance on behavior. "Evolution" refers to cumulative change in features of individuals and populations (in this case, behavioral features and their products). We will focus on scientific theories & findings in this field, and the complementarity of different approaches to biocultural evolution, including behavioral ecology, dual transmission theory, cultural phylogeny, and evolutionary psychology.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The format of the course is a combination of lecture, discussion, and student presentation. The reading load is fairly intensive, including both introductory material and scholarly journal articles.

Recommended preparation

Students should have some background in evolutionary biology (at least an introductory course such as BIOL 354 or BIO A 201), or else a strong grounding in microeconomics. Junior, Senior, or Grad Student standing only. For entry code, please email easmith@u.washington.edu following: 1. What relevant courses (ecology, anthro, geography, etc.) you've taken 2. Why you are interested in taking this course 3. Your academic major & any relevant minors or past majors 4. Your class level (senior, grad, etc.) 5. Your cumulative GPA

Class assignments and grading

4 basic requirements: 1) Written discussion topics (20 over the quarter) 2) Class presentation (based on outside reading) 3) Take-home problem sets (2 over the quarter) 4) Bibliographic essay (based on outside reading, due last day of class) 5) Discussion participation (so keep up with the reading!)

Above assignments (20% for items 1 & 2, 30% total for item 3, 15% each for items 4 & 5). Linear grading scale (no curve).


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Eric A Smith
Date: 02/17/2010