Evolution shaped the living world, from the flu virus to millions-strong colonies of leaf-cutter ants, and from simple sessile invertebrates to conscious and highly cultural humans. Darwin’s insight that evolution happens by natural selection remains, in the words of philosopher Daniel Dennett, “the most important idea anybody ever had”. Unfortunately, only a small proportion of people ever gain more than a superficial understanding of natural selection and how evolution works. And that can be problematic given the important insights that evolution provides into the most difficult and persistent problems that plague 21st Century living, including antibiotic resistance, obesity, overpopulation, income inequality, gender inequity and the ideological warfare that surround sex and family life.
This course introduces students from all areas of the university to the power of evolutionary thinking, and how to use it responsibly to understand modern life and the controversial issues that inhere to it. In addition to introducing the original - often counterintuitive - insights evolution provides, we explore the relationships between evolutionary, social, cultural and economic processes.
Learning involves on 2-hour lecture per week, plus a 1.5-2 hour workshop in which we will explore evolution using custom-designed video games and other interactive resources and data.
Assessment comprises three quizzes and an essay. There is no final exam.
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