College of Arts and Sciences | Darwinian Medicine (N&M) (3 cr.)
E105 | 14518 | Cook
4:00 PM – 6:15 PM TR
Class meets for the first 8 weeks only.
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
those mentioned above. How do scientists from diverse disciplines
use data to support their arguments? What does it mean to test an
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 toward 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