College Of Arts And Sciences | Darwinian Medicine
E105 | 0136 | Jamison


Darwinian medicine may be defined as the application of modern
evolutionary theory to considerations of human health and illness.  Also
called “evolutionary” medicine it represents the intersection of medical
knowledge and practice with disciplines such as human biology, medical
anthropology, psychology and physiology.  This course will begin with an
examination of both the evolutionary and medical explanatory models for
human health and illness.  It will proceed through a series of topics
designed to show the breadth of impact that evolutionary theory may have
on our lives today.  A persistent theme will be the difference between
proximate or immediate causes of disease (the medical model) and the
possibility that there may also be ultimate or very long-term causes
best understood through an evolutionary interpretation.  One goal of the
course is to demonstrate the utility of the scientific method in
suggesting answers to complex questions such as mentioned above.  How do
scientists from diverse disciplines use data to support their
arguments?  What does it mean to test an hypothesis?  A second goal of
this course is to try to emphasize those situations and conditions of
health (or illness) that appear to require both proximate and ultimate
explanations rather than simply one or the other.  In reality, it is the
complex interplay of genes, environment, and human behavior that affects
much of our health and illness experience today.  A third goal of this
course is to reduce the fear or uneasiness that many students feel
towards data (numbers) that appear in tables or graphs in material that
they are reading.  We will devote time to the presentation and
discussion of data and how the numbers can be interpreted and used to
bolster or challenge an argument.

Your performance in this course will be assessed on the basis
of the total number of points earned from exams, project reports and minute
papers.  If you accumulate 90% or more of the total points you will earn
an A.  There will be three examinations during the semester.  These will
combine objective (multiple choice or matching), short-answer, and essay
questions.  The three exams will represent about half of your course grade
and they will cover both lecture material and readings.  A total of six
2-page reports will be required with one due approximately every two weeks
of the semester.  The projects will be worth one-third of your grade in
the course.  Periodically you will be asked to respond in writing to a
question posed at the end of the class.  These minute papers will ask you
to assess some aspect of the course, provide a definition, expand on a topic
raised in class, write an exam question, or respond to anything else that
I can think of during class.  The minute papers will accumulate about 10%
of your final grade.