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BIOL 025: Biological Evolution

Karl Fath, Corinne Michels and PoKay Ma

(Submission #120)

Course Description

Bio. 025 (Biological Evolution) fulfills the PLAS course requirements in the area of the Natural Sciences. The course leads students to explore evolutionary theory as a unifying biological concept, and to understand how biological evolution differs from religious and cultural interpretations of life and its origins. In line with the dictum of influential 20th century evolutionist/geneticist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, that "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", students explore evolutionary principles as a means of understanding the structure and adaptations of diverse life forms, including humanity itself. The course is presented from a self-aware perspective, investigating the human capacity for complex thought and the advent of culture as facets of an increasingly complex brain. Discussion of the quest for understanding as an essential component of the human mind, addresses a central theme in liberal arts education. The course concludes with a consideration of the link between human biological evolution and cultural evolution, providing deeper insights into social and moral behaviors, and the phenomenon of war. Students examine evolutionary theory through textbook readings, Charles Darwin's book, The Origin of Species, class discussions, and original library research (which culminates in a written report on a topic of particular interest to the individual student). Students also write responses to passages from The Origin of Species, providing opportunity to formulate and articulate views on the meaning of change and adaptation, and to understand Darwin's landmark book in a historical context. The course encourages students to consider the interrelationships between life forms - past and present, and how human cultural evolution is impacting on the future of all life on earth.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Natural Science (NS)
Context of Experience: Not Applicable
Extended Requirement: Not Applicable

Additional Course information

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: BIOL 011 or high school biology
Existing Course: Existing
Existing Course Number: BIOL 025
Course Anticipated to be offered: Other
Other (if specified): Fall + Winter
Number of Sections: One
Number of Seats: 30


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, Administration (DOC)]   [Syllabus/Syllabi (DOC)]  

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