Calendar Description  

Critical appraisal of the evidence for evolution; a consideration of the basic principles of natural selection and the nature and origin of species and higher categories.

Course Objectives

This course examines some of the major tenets of evolutionary theory, the road we’ve traveled to reach our current understanding, and the cutting-edge research on evolution. We begin with a historical perspective on the philosophers, natural historians, and theorists that inspired Darwin’s seminal work, eventually leading to the Modern Synthesis and our current understanding of evolutionary theory. A key to this course is understanding not only facts and findings, but the ideas and experiments that led to major insights in evolution. In addition, lectures will cover topics in micro- and macroevolution, sexual selection, the history of life on earth, and human evolution. Discussion topics will range from classic papers in evolutionary theory to newly emerging lines of research. Course evaluation will include a mid-term exam, leading literature discussions, an individual presentation on an emerging topics in evolutionary research, participation in discussions, and a final exam.

Course / Learning Outcomes

Students completing this course will leave with a thorough understanding of how evolutionary theory informs every facet of biology. To quote Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” In addition, students that complete this course will understand how to apply evolutionary theory to many problems and questions. Successful students will leave with a firm grasp of the current state of evolutionary research.  


One of BIOL 2150, 2250, 2110, 2210 and one of BIOL 3020, 3030 (C minimum)

Recommended Text

Zimmer and Emlen. Evolution: Making Sense of Life. 


Additional Readings

Selected journal articles, government reports, and popular science articles will be linked on the moodle site.


© 2016 by Matt Reudink