Feb 05, 2023  
Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 2019-2020 
Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG] See drop-down menu above to access other catalogs.

NSCI 533 - Evolution

(3 credits)
This course draws on the Museum’s long-standing leadership in the fields of paleontology, geology, systematics, and molecular biology to tell a modern story of evolution. Students will learn why evolution is the fundamental concept that underlies all life sciences and how it contributes to advances in medicine, public health and conservation. The course begins by looking at how Charles Darwin developed his groundbreaking views on evolution by observing patterns in nature. Darwin’s work and the perspectives of the authoring scientists - a paleontologist and an ornithologist - lay out some of the evidence for evolution. We then examine the use of molecular and phylogenetic techniques to reconstruct evolutionary history and determine the place of an organism on the Tree of Life, which documents the evolutionary relationships among all species. Mechanisms of evolution and speciation are then covered and are followed by the origin and evolution of humans. The course concludes by examining the practical impact of evolution in the areas of human health, agriculture and conservation. Course participants will gain a firm understanding of the basic mechanisms of evolution — including the process of speciation — and how these systems have given rise to the great diversity of life in the world today. They will also explore how new ideas, discoveries and technologies are modifying prior evolutionary concepts. Each week begins with a Scientist Profile, in which students will meet a scientist involved in some aspect of evolutionary research. Profiles will include, for example, a paleontologist reconstructing the history of a group of mammals and a molecular biologist battling a rapidly evolving virus. Additional weekly essays will contextualize and develop the material presented in each Profile. Ultimately, the course will explain how evolution works and how we know what we know. The numerous lines of evidence supporting the theory of evolution - including the Tree of Life, fossils, homologies, cellular/molecular data, artificial selection, and embryology - will be woven throughout the course. Offered online by the American Museum of Natural History. For more information about this course and associated fees, please contact the College of Graduate Studies.