Major Option: Human Evolutionary Biology

What does it mean to be human? Who we are as a species and where we came from forms the basis of an incredible story that spans more than 4 million years. It is a story that begins in Africa, where our ancestors first stood upright. Over millions of years they continued to evolve and eventually spread out over the globe. Today only one species of humans survives: modern Homo sapiens

To understand our species, human evolutionary biologists begin with a simple premise: that our past informs the present — that humans, in their rich array of diversity, are the product of millions of years of evolution. Science has uncovered an evolutionary history that shaped humans to adapt and thrive in the environments of our Paleolithic ancestors. Yet recent changes in our society, our lifestyles, and our environment have occurred at an unprecedented rate — one that may have outpaced evolution. How does this influence modern human biology? Could some of the most pressing human health issues — ailments such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancers — arise from living in a world that is far different from that of our ancestors? The Human Evolutionary Biology Option will allow students to explore these questions.

Many students who complete this option plan to pursue post-graduate training and careers in health-related fields such as public health, epidemiology, nursing, medicine, and global health. The liberal arts education offered through anthropology is recognized as an ideal course of preparation.

According to Newsweek magazine, over the past 20 years, social science majors have had an increasing rate of successful admission to medical school, in comparison to their science-major counterparts (link to full article). Moreover, humanities students perform better on the MCAT, the standardized test for medical school admissions. Additionally, a recent report by the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians calls for evolutionary biology to be included among the core scientific competencies taught during premedical training. This option is designed to offer that very training.

Human Evolutionary Biology (HEB) option requirements

In addition to completing the core courses for anthropology (BIO A 201, any 5 credit 200-level ANTH course, and any 5 credit 200-level ARCHY course) and one statistics course (choosing from CS&SS/SOC/STAT 221STAT 220STAT 311, Q SCI 381, or ARCHY 495), HEB students are asked to take the following courses to complete their 55 anthropology credits:

  1. BIO A 101 Human Biological Diversity OR BIO A 348 Evolutionary Biology and Human Diversity
  2. BIO A 355 Evolutionary Medicine OR BIO A 351 Principles of Evolutionary Medicine
  3. 13-15 credits from the approved HEB course list (below)

Approved courses for HEB: