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Sex, Evolution & Human Nature Anthropology 468 (Capstone) Washington State University Spring 2009

Dr. Robert Quinlan Office: 372 College Hall Office hours: 10:30-11:30, T, Th or by appointment Phone: 334-5400 http://www.wsu.edu/~rquinlan/

TA: Patrick Dolan Office: College Hall 219 Email: wsuanth468@gmail.com Office hours: 12:00-2:00, T & 10:00-12:00 F or by appointment (you will send writing assignments to him)


This course is a broad overview of human sexuality and reproductive behavior from an evolutionary perspective (3 credit hours). The course content covers four areas: (1) basics of evolutionary theory; (2) sex among non-human primates; (3) reconstructing sexuality among extinct hominins (i.e., human ancestors & their relatives); and (4) the sexual and reproductive behavior of contemporary people. There are four objectives. The first is to understand the evolutionary underpinnings of our sexual and reproductive lives through “selection thinking” and by placing ourselves in the context of the primate order. The second is to appreciate the cross-cultural and “ecological” diversity of human sexuality and reproduction. The third is to strengthen critical and analytical skills through "selection thinking" and the scientific method.

Text & Readings

There will be readings assigned for each week. The entire reading load for the semester is about 800 pages, which is less than an average of about 75 pages per week. I consider that a light load for a class at this level. I chose the readings for content, readability and reasonable price (the “journal” readings are free!).

Required texts:

Texts: Jared Diamond. Why Sex is Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality. (ISBN: 0465031269)

Sarah Blaffer Hardy. Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection. (ISBN: 0345408934)

Robert Boyd and Joan Silk (2006). How Humans Evolved, 4th Ed. (ISBN: 9780393926286)


Your grades will be based on three exams (25% each) and writing assignments (25% total). Exams include multiple choice, short answer and essay formats and they are NOT cumulative. You must, however, understand the basic concepts from the beginning of the course to do well later. Make up exams will be given only in cases of serious illness or injury with evidence. The exam may be taken before the scheduled date for planned absences (university sponsored events etc.), but it is your responsibility to arrange alternative exam dates with me.

Grade scale: A (92-100%); A-(91-89%); B+(88-85%); B (84-82%); B-(81-79%); C+(78-75%); C (74-72%); C- (71-69%); D+(68-65%); D (64-60%); F (<60%).

According to the faculty handbook an A grade is awarded for “consistently superior performance”; B is for “superior performance” not as consistent as A-level work; C is for adequate performance; D is for barely passing performance; and F is for failure.

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