ANT 158 - The Evolution of Females and Males

The Evolution of Females and Males: Biological Perspective. Nature and Nurture. X and Y. Mars and Venus. These simplistic dichotomies cause problems when trying to understand biological evolution of the human sexes. The reproductive dilemmas of our ancient ancestors shaped our bodies and behaviors in complex ways, and evolution has granted the modern human species a remarkable flexibility. Despite common misunderstandings, our biology, including our sex designation, is not our destiny. This course takes a critical approach to evidence and beliefs. We abandon essentialist and typological thinking as we explore how the continuum of human sexuality resulted from endless cycles of selective pressure, and the adaptive consequences of this plasticity in modern cross-cultural contexts.
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ANT 001 recommended




The course covers major theories and problems in evolutionary biology, including natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, the evolution of sexual reproduction, life history, and sex ratios. After considering broader applications to other species, we consider the implications for humans. Emphases are placed on cross-cultural diversity and applications of science to contemporary social problems. Topics range from psychological (e.g. stereotypes, implicit bias) to developmental (e.g. child-rearing, socialization) to performance and achievement (e.g. sports, education, work) to politics (e.g. same-sex marriage legislation, the 2016 presidential election) to self-expression (e.g. art, fashion). We consider what evolutionary social science can offer in the search for solutions to problems like sexism, homophobia, sex-selective abortion and infanticide, violence and aggression, and poverty.