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Evolutionary Anthropology

Focus

In Evolutionary Anthropology, we take a broad, synthetic approach to understanding the interrelated effects of human biology and behavior in an evolutionary and cultural framework. Because of this perspective, we are recognized for our research nationally and internationally and are highly competitive in attracting and placing graduate students. We make use of systematic comparisons of the behavior, physiology, anatomy and genetics of great apes, human ancestors and living humans (with an emphasis on modern foragers and small scale societies) in order to understand the process of human evolution and the specific selection pressures that shaped the unique traits that characterize our species.

Educational Program

The Evolutionary Anthropology subfield will continue to be recognized for its .high quality program, serving the needs of the Arts and Sciences core curriculum, anthropology concentrators and graduate education. We employ novel teaching methods and technologies to help students understand how and why biological anthropologists employ an evolutionary perspective to study the nature, causes and implications of human biological variation. Our training will prepare students for citizenship in the 21st Century with the ability to understand the complexity and multidimensional nature of global, national and local problems. It will also provide material knowledge of theory, data and methods in evolutionary theory and biological anthropology to facilitate entry into graduate school or NGO employment in development, health, and social programs.

The evolutionary anthropology graduate program provides an in-depth education in the theory, methods and data used to test hypotheses about the nature, evolutionary causes, and scientific and social implications of human biological and behavioral variation. Areas of specialization include human behavioral ecology, life history theory, non-human primate behavior, paleoanthropology, human biology and genetic anthropology. The Evolutionary Anthropology graduate program is uniquely configured with a focus on theoretical models based on evolutionary theory, testable predictions using empirical data sets, and high level training in skills. We place a high priority in teaching each student a professional- level configuration of skills that is identified as most appropriate for the chosen dissertation project and career trajectory; such as analytic design and data analysis, endocrinology, or analysis of genetic, isotopic, geological or skeletal data.

Articulation

We have a strong relationship with several archaeology faculty members whose research is informed by human behavioral ecology. These archaeologists are informally affiliated and collaborate in graduate training and research projects. The establishment of the Center for Human Evolutionary Science (CHES) involves a collaboration for at least 10 years by Evolutionary Anthropology faculty and members of Biology and Psychology on the evolution of human behavior including shared curricula and graduate students. Current activity is focused on obtained a training grant that will support graduate students, post docs and research initiatives of new faculty. Evolutionary Anthropology shares with Ethnology a focus on the global problems of the 21st Century: fertility and population growth, limits on energy and food supply, global epidemics and modern, aging and degenerative diseases, intergroup conflict and genocide, and environment protection and regeneration. Such global issues are complex problems requiring multiple approaches and interdisciplinary collaborative research. Promising collaborations include evolutionary medicine, public health and medical anthropology.