Human Adaptation and Cultural Evolution
The goals of this class are to introduce students to the broad range of historical and contemporary human subsistence strategies. Our human means of acquiring subsistence have evolved over time, and anthropologists use contemporary and archaeological data to attempt to reconstruct that fascinating trajectory. Implications of doing this include a deeper understanding of the importance of environments, technologies, and human population. The relationships between these components are not mechanical, but rather they interact in complex ways, leading to changes that feedback to affect each other and all components of culture. Human environments themselves are not static, but have been shaped by human action for thousands or even millions of years. Subsistence is what we receive from this modified environment, and we literally cannot live without it. This class leads to many conclusions about our human place in the world, and suggests many pathways to living sustainably with nature in our future. Knowing where we are going requires a keen understanding of where we have come from. Attaining that understanding is the goal of the class.