This course provides a background in the fundamental principles of evolution, including natural selection, adaptation, population genetics, coevolution, speciation, and macroevolution. Using historical texts as well as cutting-edge research papers, we will explore the ongoing development of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Through the readings, activities, and dialogue supported by the course, students will learn to apply evolutionary concepts to both the natural and human-mediated world around them.
Who Might Be Interested In This Course?
If you are interested in any evolutionary process, from the origin of life to the recent emergence of the human species, this course will provide you with a broad overview of evolutionary theory and its discoveries. If you are inspired not only to read about evolutionary principles but also play around with the process of evolution, this course gives you the chance to perform an original research project using an evolutionary simulator (see Project Guidelines posted below). Requiring weekly quizzes and a final exam, this is a fairly traditional course, so you should be prepared to do some weekly study of major concepts. I also ask that students engage in regular discussions, sometimes in small groups, so you should be prepared to be actively involved during class sessions. Evolution requires a fair amount of reading in this (see the syllabus below for details), so you should be prepared to allocate at least three hours a week to reading for this course. If you are concerned about making sure you fulfill your Math & Science requirement, one nice thing about this course is that it awards a lot of credit for work done within the class sessions themselves; if you regularly attend classes, it is difficult to fail this course.
What Background Should I Have Before I Take This Course?
This course requires no formal background in the biological sciences. It is nice if you have some memory of your high school biology class, but even that is not required.
You can check out exemplary Research Projects on the Evolution student work page.