Teaching

WINTER 2017

  • ANTH 9: Human Behavioral Sciences Methods Lab. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the design and analysis of scientific studies of behavior. The emphasis in the class is on theory-based testing of workable hypotheses, with examples drawn from human evolutionary ecology and human biology. Classes are structured around methods of data collection and analysis. Students are introduced to a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, from observational and survey-based studies of behavior to experiments. Classes are held in a computer laboratory, where students use database and statistical software to organize and analyze real data.

SPRING 2017

  • ANTH 170: Behavioral Ecology of the Family. The family is the fundamental unit of social organization, characterized by both intense cooperative relationships and conflicts of interest. In this course, we utilize behavioral ecology as a theoretical framework to examine family relationships and the diversity of human family structure forms across societies. Behavioral ecology considers behavior as the product of evolution by natural selection and proposes explanations for behavioral diversity in terms of adaptive function and ecological contingency. Each week we will apply theoretical concepts such as life history theory, sexual selection and kin selection to different aspects of family life. Approaching the human family from a broad comparative perspective, we will also occasionally consider the application of behavioral ecology to the non-human literature on families. Topics will include: sibling competition and clutch size evolution, parent-offspring conflict, marriage and inheritance systems, kin detection, sexual orientation and the demographic transition. As an upper division course, focus will be placed on relatively advanced concepts and critical engagement with areas of ongoing debate in the literature.
  • ANTH 209 (Graduate Level): Applying Evolutionary Anthropology. This discussion-based course will explore the relevance of evolutionary anthropology to contemporary efforts to improve human wellbeing, particularly in the international development sector. It will also provide an opportunity to consider the ‘broader impacts’ of your own current/planned research – often a requirement for grant applications. This year, specific focus will be placed on interrogating the concept of ‘harmful cultural practices’– i.e. practices deemed fundamentally detrimental to the wellbeing of women and children. Topics will include: female genital cutting, child, arranged and polygynous marriage, gendered violence, child labor, and widow inheritance. Each week we will critically evaluate: (1) the evidence for harm, (2) competing evolutionary (and related social science) explanations for the origin and maintenance of each practice, and (3) the design of interventions aiming to change behavior. The course assumes familiarity with evolutionary approaches to human behavioral variation, but grad students with a background in related disciplines (e.g. demography, psychology, evolutionary biology) with an interest in bridging the divide between academic and applied research/policy are encouraged to contact me to discuss suitability.