• Human Origins:
This course will introduce you to the subfield of physical/biological anthropology. This is a vast field of study covering many aspects of human biology and behavior in a cultural and evolutionary context. In essence biological anthropologists seek to answer the question of how and why humans came to be the way there are today, both biologically and culturally. To answer these questions we will discuss the relationship of humans to other primates, both living and extinct, by examining their evolutionary history, biology and behavior. This is followed by a detailed look at the evolutionary history of our own species (Homo sapiens) through a detailed examination of the hominid fossil record. In order to proceed with these topics it is crucial for you to gain an understanding of biological evolution and its mechanisms (natural selection and heredity), which will be covered in the first section of the course.
• Primate Behavior and Ecology:
An introduction to the social and physical diversity of the Order Primates, emphasizing the biology, ecology, and behavior of living nonhuman primates. Social structure will be explored from an evolutionary perspective, and the ecological and social constraints on behavioral flexibility will be examined. Examples will cover both field and laboratory investigations of nonhuman primates.
• Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction:
Throughout this course we will examine current issues in human sexual behavior and reproduction (both biological and cultural) from an anthropological perspective. Most broadly defined, Anthropology is the study of human kind and through anthropological investigations we strive to learn who we are, how we came to be, and where we are headed. This approach will enable us to study the interrelatedness of biological, behavioral, cultural, social, and political aspects of human sex and reproduction. Through readings, lectures, films and class discussions we will examine issues such as new reproductive technologies, the biology and culture of pregnancy and childbirth, mate choice, menopause, etc.
• Primate Evolution and Adaptation:
This course will focus on the anatomy, evolution and adaptive radiation of the Order Primates. We will examine the morphological and behavioral adaptations that characterize the primates through an examination of both living and fossil representatives. Class discussions and explorative essays will focus on tracing some of the more peculiar adaptations of a small selection of living primates or explore some of the current controversies in primate evolution and systematics.
• Primate Models of Human Social Evolution:
Humans are members of the order Primates and we share much in common with our non-human primate cousins (evolutionary history, genetics, physiology, behavior, etc). It is because of these similarities, in particular the similarities in our genetics with the great apes, that many taxonomists classify humans as the fourth great ape species (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans being the other three). In this class we will examine some of the current studies of the living nonhuman primates and discuss the insights they can provide into human evolution and social behavior. Throughout the course we will critically evaluate attempts to use primates as models for the evolution of human behavior and discuss various controversies surrounding the study of the evolution of behavior, with particular reference to the theoretical frameworks of socio-biology and behavioral ecology. Topics to be discussed include: material culture, sex and reproduction, social organization, cognition, aggression and warfare, hunting and meat eating, etc. Classes will be conducted in a seminar fashion with both students and instructor leading lectures and class discussions.
• Methods of Observation in Behavioral Research:
This course will focus on the development, design, analysis, and presentation of research on behavior using observational methods. While these methods can be used on captive populations (zoo, research center), they are appropriate also for studies of free-ranging animals, including human beings. The student will be exposed to the specific challenges of observational research and will learn appropriate levels of analysis.
• Primate Behavior and Biology
This course will familiarize students with the order Primates, with an emphasis on the "rules" of and constraints on nonhuman primate social structure, and the diversity and flexibility of primate social behavior. An introduction to the nonhuman primates will include physical characteristics, ecological influences and constraints on behavior, evolutionary history, taxonomy, and a consideration of the genetic basis for an evolutionary interpretation of behavior. A more detailed examination of different types of behavior (e.g., aggressive, status-related, developmental) and their functions in primate social groups will be considered using evidence from both field and laboratory based studies. We will end with a review of the variability and flexibility of social structures, and a look to the future conservation of primate species.
• Primate Evolution and Adaptation
• Primate Models of Human Social Evolution
• Advanced Method and Theory in Primatology
• Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction
All available courses in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University are available here.
For a complete list of courses that I have taught in the past, please see my CV.