Intro to Anthropology: Socratic-Style Course



This Socratic-style course is an introduction to evolution and the theory of natural selection as it applies to Homo sapiens, or modern humans, and the innovations of early modern human civilization.


Meets for 45 minutes once per week for 12 weeks. 

Anthropology is the study of what makes us human. Anthropologists take a broad approach to understanding the many different aspects of the human experience, which we call holism. They consider the past, through archaeology, to see how human groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago and what was important to them.

I will use a combination of carefully curated videos, handouts, and slideshows to introduce information to my students. This is NOT a lecture: participation is expected. This course requires critical thinking, and students will be expected to ask questions and fully engage in the material. We will also have Webquests and various tools to encourage and enhance both engagement and retention of information.

In this course, students will learn about evolution and its mechanisms, and how it applies to the origins of modern humans. Students need only a basic awareness of theory of evolution to get started. We’ll discuss how natural selection works in nature, then apply it to modern humans and our earliest ancestors. By the end of the course, students will understand evolution and the theories surrounding how it takes place, and be able to explain it with practical examples using Homo sapiens (modern human beings) and their direct and indirect ancestors.

Anticipated Course Outline

Week 1: Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Week 2: The Continent of Africa: Where Life was Born
Week 3: Australopithecus afarensis: The Earliest Human Ancestor
Week 4: Homo neanderthalensis: All About Neanderthals
Week 5: Homo sapiens: The Birth of Modern Humans
Week 6: Palaeolithic Era: Human Life Before Agriculture
Week 7: The Neolithic Revolution
Week 8: Civilization’s First Cities
Week 9: The Emergence of the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia
Week 10: Mesopotamian Cultures: The First Urban Settlements
Week 11: Saxons and Vikings in Bronze Age Europe
Week 12: The Iron Age: The Use of Modern Metals and the Invention of Writing