Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Great Adventures in Evolution

Offered at: Pratt Logo

Note: For the time being I am removing this course from my roster of courses offered; although I have enjoyed teaching this class and I believe it offers students some valuable content, it will not be a viable course for very much longer due to curricular reforms that make a one-credit course difficult to fill. This course was a fun experiment in teaching through stories and asking students to create conceptual work based on scientific ideas, but I think that it asked a bit too much of my students for a one-credit, 100-level course.

Course Description:
Behind every evolutionary discovery there is a story. By exploring these stories and the discoveries they yielded, this course provides a solid foundation in evolutionary biology to students with minimal scientific background. Through weekly discussions we will illuminate what motivates the scientists who make great discoveries, how these discoveries are made, and where these discoveries fit into the development of evolutionary biology as a scientific field.

Who Might Be Interested In This Course?
If you are interested in the science of evolution but do not have the time in your schedule for a full three-credit course, Great Adventures in Evolution enables you to learn about evolution through its greatest tales of adventure. The course is focused on Sean Carroll’s short book Into the Jungle, which explores some of the most important discoveries in evolution from a historical perspective. This nicely-written book incorporates a healthy amount of evolutionary biology, but packages this scientific information in a fun-to-read narrative. The requirements for the course are very simple: you answer a few basic questions on the readings before class, we discuss the readings in class, and then you choose one story to depict in a creative medium for your Final Project. Minimal reading load and assignments make this course easy to fit into your schedule.

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. The course has been specifically designed for students who do not thrive in a traditional science classroom.

MSCI-160 (Great Adventures in Evolution) Course Syllabus
MSCI-160 (Great Adventures in Evolution) Final Project Guidelines