College Of Arts and Sciences | Darwinian Medicine
E105 | 0074 | Cook, D.


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.

This course is offered during the semester’s first eight weeks.