ANTH 4180  Anthropological PerspectivesóContemporary Issues in Biological Anthropology

Spring 2009
Meeting Place: Hale 455
Meeting Time: T 9:00 am
Professor: Matt Sponheimer
Office: Hale 347
Office Hours: T 1:45-4:45 pm
Phone: 303-735-2065

Class Overview
Most classes in biological anthropology are narrow perforce, and as a result, are pale reflections of a broad, vibrant, and deeply relevant discipline. The aim of this class is to cut a broad swath through the field and stimulate discussion on a broad range of topics including the influence of our preconceptions on our interpretation of the human fossil record, creationism, the nature/nurture debate, and medical experimentation on primates. The vehicles for this discussion will be a series of books, largely written for a general audience, that are among the most readable, engaging, and in some cases, controversial in the field. Each text will be very different from the next, and as such, the class will not be about any topic in particular, save perhaps the state of the discipline as a whole. If you require a great deal of class structure, this is not the class for you.

We will be reading the texts in the order that they appear below. The reading load for this class will be significant, and you will be expected to keep a journal. The journal is meant to be a forum for developing your ideas about the reading, not a simple recapitulation of the texts.

Next of Kin by Roger Fouts
Bones of Contention by Roger Lewin
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
The Mismeasure of Man by Steven Jay Gould
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Class Format
This is an upper-division discussion course. Thus, you will be expected to be an active participant in ALL class discussions. We will combine small group with whole class discussion, which should make this easier for those shy folks among you. If you think active participation is beyond your ability, you should take a different class.

You will be evaluated on your class participation (including small team projects, 33.3%), journal (33.3%), and one large team project (33.3%).

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please bring me a letter from Disability Services so that your needs may be addressed. Disability Services (303-492-8671, Willard 322, determines accommodations based on documented disabilities.

Dates to Remember
Our first book discussion will be on February 10th. Prior to that date we will be working on smaller group projects. Final journals are due on April 28th; group project meetings will occur on March 13th; and final team projects will be presented on April 28th.