Classroom Teaching

From menarche to menopause: the evolutionary biology of women’s reproductive lives – ANTH 230 (Fall 2014) view recent syllabus

This course is an exploration of female reproductive lives from an evolutionary and biosocial perspective. We will focus on physiological, ecological, and social aspects of women’s development from puberty, through reproductive processes such as pregnancy, birth and lactation, menopause and aging. We will also explore variation in female life histories in a variety of cultural and ecological settings. Examples will be drawn primarily from traditional and modern human societies; data from studies of nonhuman primates are also considered. We will encourage critical thinking at all times with the hope that discussions in this class become useful when making decisions about your lives as citizens, potential parents, health care providers, health care recipients, and policy makers. This is a lecture course, which will meet twice a week for 75 min.

Advanced topics in Biological Anthropology: Health of Indigenous Peoples – ANTH 890 (Fall 2014) view recent syllabus

From the highlands of the Andes to the lowlands of the Amazon basin and the frozen circumpolar steppes, from subsistence farmers and herders to hunter-gatherer groups, indigenous populations are changing their lifestyle so rapidly, and sometimes so profoundly, that it is difficult to follow the pace of the transformation. Indigenous peoples always fare far worse than non-indigenous ones in terms of health status. No matter where one looks, there are substantial health disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in the form of mortality and morbidity gaps. We will go over the epidemiological landscape of indigenous populations and discuss causes of death and sickness, which vary from population to population. We will then expand on some of the possible interactive causes of these disparities, particularly the role that globalization and market integration is having in shaping the health situation of indigenous peoples. Finally, we will discuss the current surge of Global Health Programs, mainly at academic or research institutions in the northern hemisphere and the contribution of anthropology to those programs.

Ethnopediatrics (Spring 2015)

Women in certain cultures wean their babies when they are days old, while others do so when the child decides to wean him/herself (years). Babies in some hunter-gatherer populations never crawl and only start walking when they are 18 months old and older. Babies in Western, industrialized populations are encouraged to crawl and walk at much earlier ages. Many infants are circumcised at birth and others at puberty. In most populations, babies sleep with their mothers for several years, while in the US, it is expected that they sleep through the night in a separate room as early as possible. How do all these ways of raising children affect their growth and development? Are there universal patters on child rearing? Can an evolutionary perspective contribute to a better understanding of variation in the way we raise our children and in their health patterns? In this course, we will discuss how the health, growth, and development of children are shaped by the interactive actions of human evolutionary biology, ecology, and local cultural patterns. Examples from current and past cultures as well as from non-human primate species, will be analyzed.

COURSES PREVIOUSLY TAUGHT AT PENN

Sex and Human Nature

(Anth 104; Spring 2007, Fall 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Co-taught with Dr. Eduardo Fernandez-Duque
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This is an introduction to the scientific study of sex in humans. Within an evolutionary framework, the course examines genetic, physiological, ecological, social and behavioral aspects of sex in humans. How is sex determined? What is the physiology of the sexual response? Do men and women differ in their sexual strategies? Why marry? Topics relevant to human sexuality today are discussed, such as rape, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Being Human: Culture, Biology and Human Diversity
(Anth 143)
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This course is an exploration of human biology from and evolutionary and biocultural perspective. Under this light, the class examines general concepts to better understand what it means to be human. We look at humans as mammals, as primates and as hominids. Biological variation in contemporary and past societies will be reviewed in reference to evolutionary process.

Human Reproductive Ecology
Anth 447
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Human reproductive ecology considers reproduction as an aspect of human biology that is responsive to the ecological context. This course takes an evolutionary perspective – that is we assume that current human reproductive physiology is the product of selection. In addition, we take a biocultural approach: the ecological context will be defined as the product of the interaction between biological and social variables. We will take three contemporary human populations as examples of different ecologies: the Toba of Northern Argentina, the Tz’tujil Maya of Guatemala and the population of Northeastern Philadelphia to explore patterns of fertility.

Topics in Biological Anthropology: The Evolution of Human Life Histories
Anth 662
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This seminar is designed as a forum to read and discuss current topics in the field of Biological Anthropology. Readings focus on Reproductive Ecology and research advances in Life History Theory.

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