Courses Details

EPID509 Evolution, Behavior and Public Health

  • Graduate level
  • Fall term(s)
  • 3 Credit Hour(s)
  • Instructor(s): Foxman, Betsy
  • Offered every other year
  • Last offered Fall 2015
  • Description: This course will teach the core principles of evolutionary biology and the special challenges of applying them to problems in psychology and public health. The course will begin with the subset of core principles of evolutionary biology that have particular applications in psychology and public health. Some of the early classes will be divided into subsections so we can match teaching to the backgrounds of students from different areas. It will then survey the fast growing field of evolutionary medicine, what it offers to psychology and public health already, and new applications that are likely to be especially useful. Most of the detailed examples will be from infectious disease and evolutionary aspects of behavioral disorders and behaviors that influence disease susceptibility. The course will close by addressing the challenges of formulating and testing evolutionary hypotheses about why natural selection left our bodies vulnerable to diseases, emphasizing how new research questions emerge from an evolutionary perspective, and new methodologies for rigorously testing evolutionary hypotheses about disease. At the conclusion of the course, participants will understand how core principles of evolutionary biology have been and can be applied to public health problems, and they will have a moderately developed critical capacity for assessing research reports in the area.
  • Course Goals: Introduce students to basic principles of evolutionary theory, especially as they apply to health and disease, with special emphasis on infectious diseases and behavioral and mental disorders.
  • Competencies: Be able to define and give examples of the relevant core evolutionary concepts. Demonstrate familiarity with the techniques and methods used in evolutionary biology. Demonstrate ability to formulate and plan studies to test evolutionary hypotheses. Be able to critically review and analyze applications of evolutionary theory in the scientific literature.
  • Learning Objectives: Learn how to formulate and test evolutionary hypotheses about why selection has left the body vulnerable to physical and mental disorders. Learn to critically review and analyze applications of evolutionary theory to problems in public health, psychology and medicine.
  • This course is cross-listed with Psychology 515 in the LS&A department.