Critical Approaches to the Arts and Sciences C105 (Vitzthum) and Anthropology B400/600 (Vitzthum)
The Biology & Culture of Women’s Bodies
As members of the same species, all human females share a similar morphology and physiology. But similarity is not identity. Using evolutionary and anthropological approaches (life history theory, biocultural models, demography), this course will consider the extent and causes of variation among women and across populations in biological form and functioning from menarche through menopause, and the consequences of this variation for women’s health and well being. Students will gain a solid foundation in the physiology of women’s bodies and an appreciation of the influence of cultural traditions and practices in modifying biology and shaping a woman’s experience of her own body. Topics include dietary practices, eating disorders, activity patterns and exercise, breasts, religion, mass media, sexuality, western and non-western medical practices, violence, work, and menopause.
ANTH-A 211 – Anthropology topics in the natural and mathemtical sciences (Deimel)
Bee-ing Human: Bees and Humans
This course will investigate the relationship between humans and honey bees from an interdisciplinary perspective. Honeybees connect the social, cultural and biological worlds like no other animal because of their immense importance to the human diet. We will learn about honey bee biology and behavior, and how this knowledge has influenced human beekeeping and honey hunting practices around the world and across time. We will investigate theories about the importance of honey hunting as a possible factor in human evolution and compare human behaviors to behaviors of other honey hunting animals like chimpanzees and honey badgers. Historically, bee keeping has been considered a powerful, sometimes even mystical skill in almost every society, and we will also explore the role of bees and bee keeping in more recent times. This will set the stage for a discussion of the current role of bees and bee keeping in our society. We will learn how honeybees are used as a model species in the biological sciences to investigate social behaviors, communication and honey bee health. Furthermore, we will explore the practices of bee keeping, the challenges these are facing, but also the opportunities they are providing across the world today. We will review the importance of honey bees to the current human diet by examining the links between pollination services, food production and security and declining bee populations. Finally, we will contrast bee keeping in the US with bee keeping in other parts of the world with a focus on the local bee keeping community.
Collins Living Learning Center L220/Class 32031 (Deimel)
Anthropology of Sports
How is it that human beings glorify something as seemingly frivolous as sports? Why do we play and compete in sports? Why do we watch them? What role do sports play in people’s livelihoods, in politics, in the global economy, and for the environment? In no other topic are culture and biology so inseparably intertwined as in the expression of sports. During this course we will explore these questions from both the socio-cultural and biological anthropological perspective. Course material will include readings from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, class discussions of case studies, guest speakers, and hands‐on activities. At the end of the semester, each student will present their own research project in which they can pursue their own interests to approach a topic from a biological or cultural perspective.
Human Biology B300 (Sanders & Vitzthum)
The general framework for this Human Biology core course is “Social and ethical consideration of the human condition and of the construction of scientific knowledge through case-based investigations of biological processes that integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives. Emphasis is placed on logical interpretation of data and on effective communication of evidence and claims.”
Our central question this term is an enduring dilemma: Is biology destiny? There is no simple answer to this often vigorously debated query, yet the many (implicit and explicit) responses permeate almost every aspect of human life. We will explore scientific, social, cultural and ethical issues regarding human sexuality and reproduction, two universal and intertwined components of the human condition. We will focus on three principal inter-related themes: Challenging Nature (Dissonance between Idealized and Real Biology), Reproductive Variability in Real Humans, and Sexuality and Reproductive Dilemmas in Work and Health. Our primary goals are:
(1) to integrate information from a variety of perspectives to better understand the biocultural constructions of human sexual and reproductive variability, and
(2) to gain skills in logically interpreting evidence and claims, and effectively synthesizing and communicating findings.
This course deals with aspects of human sexuality, reproduction, and gender in a straight-forward and explicit manner. Sexuality is a fundamental aspect of human biology, health, and well-being. If this is a problem for you, please do not take this course.