The Nature of Human Nature

WCP 222 Natural Systems II Spring 1998

Welcome! It is 1:41:46 PM on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 . Visitors served since 1/5/98: 14890 Last Update: Wednesday, May 7, 2014


INSTRUCTORS:

  Hays Cummins
226 Boyd Hall, ext 9-1338

Office Hours: W, Th 3-5

  Chris Myers
126 Peabody Hall, ext. 9-5664

Office Hours: T, Th 3:30-4:30



DESCRIPTION:

Where do friendship, romance, racism, sibling rivalry come from? What are the evolutionary implications of sex and gender? Where do our ethics come from? Darwin helped begin a controversy that thrives to this day on the nature of who we are. The controversy was inflamed in 1975 with the publication of E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology, a conceptual marriage of evolution and human behavior. Politically loaded and regarded as anathema to many, the word sociobiology has been stricken from journals and professional usage.

" People sometimes ask: What ever happened to sociobiology? The answer is that it went underground, where it has been eating away at the foundations of academic orthodoxy. "

-- Robert Wright, The Moral Animal


In this course we will critically explore the cherished perceptions we hold of ourselves and the research that has sought to lend new insights into the fundamental basis of human behavior. This will include modern interpretations of such issues as criminal behavior, honor, sacrifice, parental manipulation, and intelligence.
We will further examine new uses of evolutionary theory to address our place in nature. This course will combine careful readings of primary and secondary literature in evolutionary biology, ecology, and psychology, with empirical investigations (including fieldwork) of the central tenants of the course.

COURSE GOALS:


INTERDISCIPLINARITY: We will mainly draw on subdisciplines in biology (evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology), psychology, anthropology, and sociology. We will be following the tracks of a recent, controversial paradigm (sociobiology), to examine how its central tenants are denied, incorporated, and transformed in other disciplines.

WRITING AND QUANTITATIVE REASONING: Writing assignments will include professional writing within a discipline, creative writing, essay, and autobiography. Quantitative components include basic statistics; collecting, presenting, and interpreting data; simple mathematical models in quantitative genetics.

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING:
 Assignment Weight
 In-Class Writing and On-line Feedback  15%
 Midterm  15%
 Poster Presentations  20%
 Naturalist Autobiography  15%
 Field Study/Final Exam (on poster topic)  25%
 Participation  10%

Miami has 100s of acres of beautiful Natural Areas which lend themselves to experiencing nature! (Quicktime movie~4 mb). On the same walk, a garter snake makes her presence known!

Attendance is essential for serious class discussion and learning. Three percent of the final grade will be subtracted for each unexcused absence. All students should submit end-of-the-semester course evaluations. WCP students must complete their Statement of Educational Objectives in order to receive a grade for second-year Western courses.

ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT: All students should carefully read Part V, Sections 501 507 of The Miami Student Handbook which deals with academic misconduct. If you have any questions about this material, please ask your instructor for interpretation.

HUMAN NATURE POSTER PRESENTATION GUIDELINES: Poster sessions are effeictive ways of communicating research and are commonly employed in academic meetings of all disciplines. Each team (typically two people) should plan to lead class on the day of the poster session: 15 minutes presenting the poster; 15 minutes leading a discussion on the topic of the poster; 30 minutes on leading a more general discussion of the week's readings, or conducting an activity based upon the readings, or gathering data for your Human Nature Field Project. Poster board can be picked up at the Peer Science Center.

Poster and discussion sessions will be each Tuesday beginning week 4.

Your poster should:

Poster topics should be directly linked to your Human Nature Field Project.

WEB FORUM FOR THE HUMAN/NATURE FIELD PROJECT: Visit Research Entry by week 4 to put your project ideas on the web. We will work together online. Students and instructors will provide ideas and critiques as the projects develop.

Feedback on Student Research and Discussion Topics
Research Entry Form   Research Proposals and Feedback Research Progress Reports  Research Additions Since I Last Looked!   Progress Report Additions Since I Last Looked

Here's a little boost in your search for a suitable topic!!

Library Resources

Miami Link

Science Database

Search a Huge Database of links to Science and Evolution

Enter some key words to search by:

Find pages with of these words and return results.

Detailed Results Search Phonetically Begins With Searching 


Search Engines-Search Worldwide

 

Searching with WebCrawler(TM)

Infoseek

REQUIRED READINGS:

Jane Goodall 1990. Through a Window . Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 268pp.
Stephen J. Gould. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man . Norton, New York, 352pp.
Stephen R. Kellert. 1997. Kinship to Mastery: Biophilia in Human Evolution and Development . Island Press, Washington, D. C., 256pp.
Robert Wright. 1994. The Moral Animal. Vintage Books, New York, 466pp.

Spring has started! The Swans are Courting one day late in March! (Quicktime movie)


CLASS SCHEDULE:

PART I: WHY WE BEHAVE THE WAY WE DO


**Note: Complete each reading for the Tuesday session of class each week.

Week 1 (1/12-1/16) THE DEBATE
Read : Wright, Introduction & Chapter 1
**sign up for poster topic

Week 2 (1/19-1/23) THE DEBATE II
Read: Wright, Chapters 2 & 3; Goodall Chapter 2

Week 3 (1/26-1/30) FINDING THE PERFECT MATE(S)
Read: Wright, Chapters 4 & 5; Goodall Chapter 9

Week 4 (2/2-2/6) FINDING THE PERFECT MATE(S) II
Read: Wright, Chapter 6
Possible Poster Topics: mate choice, homosexuality, rape, beauty
**Idea for Human/Nature Field Project due (one paragraph-- post to web )

Ants are the dominant social insects where social behavior evolved over 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period. The primitive bulldog ants of Australia are important in several respects for the study of sociobiology. From Sociobiology . E.O. Wilson, 1975.

Week 5 (2/9-2/13) UNDERSTANDING FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
Read: Wright, Chapters 7 & 8, Goodall Chapter 4 & 11
Possible Poster Topics: sibling rivalry, kin selection, parental manipulation

Week 6 (2/16-2/20) UNDERSTANDING FAMILIES AND FRIENDS II
Read: Wright, Chapters 9 & 10, Goodall Chapter 17
Possible Poster Topics: friendship, loyalty, jealousy, reciprocal altruism

Week 7 (2/23-2/27) YOUR SOCIAL STATUS
Read: Wright, Chapters 11 & 12; Goodall Chapter 10
Possible Poster Topics: hierarchy, dominance & submission, guilt
** Complete Proposal for Human/Nature Field Project Due (about 5 pp)

Week 8 (3/2-3/6) YOUR SOCIAL STATUS II
Read: Wright, Chapters 13 & 14
Possible Poster Topics: deception & self-deception, aggression &
criminal behavior
**Midterm

SPRING BREAK WEEK (3/9-3/13)

Week 9 (3/16-3/20) EVOLUTIONARY ETHICS AND RELIGION
Read: Wright, Chapters 15-18
Possible Poster Topics: Good & Evil, morality, honor, sacrifice
** Online Progress Report for Human/Nature Field Project due


PART II: THE ABUSE OF INTELLIGENCE


Week 10 (3/23-3/27)MEASURING HEADS AND BODIES
Read: Gould Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4
Possible Poster Topics: Human variation, mismeasurment by race/class/gender

Week 11 (3/30-4/3) MORE ABUSE
Read: Gould Chapters 5, 6, 7
Possible Poster Topics: Human Variation, Mismeasurment by race/class/gender
** Online Progress Report for Human/Nature Field Project due


PART III: FROM UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES
TO UNDERSTANDING NATURE

Getting ready for Biophillia! One class enjoys the Outdoors on a Fine Spring Day. (Quicktime movie)

Week 12 (4/6-4/10) NATURE IS USEFUL, AESTHETIC, AND INFORMATIVE
Read: Kellert Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4
Possible Poster Topics: Any subheading from chapters for this week
** Nature Autobiography (Go Here for an Example) due and discussed in class

Week 13 (4/13-4/17) NATURE IS SYMBOLIC, NATURALISTIC, AND HUMANISTIC
Read: Kellert Chapters 5, 6, 7
Possible Poster Topics: Any subheading from chapters for this week
** Online Progress Report for Human/Nature Field Project due

Week 14 (4/20-4/24) NATURE IS BENEATH US, BEYOND US, AND UNPLEASANT
Read: Kellert Chapters 8, 9, 10
Possible Poster Topics: Any subheading from chapters for this week
Visit Senior Project Presentations

Week 15 (4/27-5/1) FINAL REFLECTIONS
Read: Kellert Chapters 11 & 12, Goodall Chapter 18

Week 16 --Final Exams--Take Home. Final Human/Nature Field Project due in hard copy and posted to the web , with project assessment.


Return Home | Return to Top of Page | Earth Science & Astronomy | Weather Sites | Tropical Ecosystems | Search This SITE

Any mail, comments or suggestions? You can Add to my Guestbook, View the Guestbook or e-mail me privately at HaysC@miamioh.edu .

Thanks for Stopping In, Hays .