Anth 21: Introduction to Biological Anthropology

Summer 2000

Class Information








107 Carpenter Bldg.

Instructor Information





Office Location

Office Hours

Gregory Bondar

ghb1 at


419 Carpenter Bldg.

M-F 10:50-11:50am

Class Overview

This class will explore the evolutionary origins of humanity by developing familiarity with the genetic processes, and the resulting physiological, behavioral, and cultural correlations. We will begin by discussing the origins of modern science and the historical context of Darwin's theories, and then move into examining the genetic processes which make evolution work. Then, we will apply our understanding of these processes towards examining human origins. Ultimately, through studying our relationship to other species, we should gain an enhanced appreciation for the uniqueness of our own species.

My expectations are that none of you have prior course experience in the biological or social sciences. However, just because this is an introductory class does not mean that I will only expect you to simply memorize "facts" and then regurgitate them back at us. Instead, I want to strongly encourage critical thinking as the key to understanding the concepts that we will cover in this course. Anybody can memorize and repeat a barrage of "facts" from the Discovery Channel. I want you to understand why scientists believe certain things and how certain processes operate. To get the most out of this class, constantly ask yourself "why is that so?" or "how does this work?". To do well in this class, you will need to be able to explain concepts demonstrating that you understand these contexts. This kind of reasoning is applicable in every other subject that you will study. If nothing else, even if your mind is completely devoid of thoughts about primates and genes as you hand in your final exams, I hope that you will continue to question and seek to understand both the "facts" of others, and your own experiences.

Grading Policies:

Your final grade will be composed of the following components:
15% Exam I
20% Exam II
30% Exam III (comprehensive)
25% Lab and homework assignments
10% Discussion

Grades will be assigned via the typical scale of:
A = 93-100%
A-= 90-92%
B+= 87-89%
B = 83-86%
B-= 80-82%
C+= 77-79%
C = 70-76%
D = 60-69%
F =  0-59%

The exams will be a mixture of multiple-choice, matching, and essay questions. The exam grades will not be curved unless the average grade is below 70%. Lab reports will be based on seven hands-on in-class workshops. Homework will be assigned based on your readings.

Your discussion grade will be based on your active, tactful involvement in class discussion--involvement based on your thorough reading of the text, articles, and viewing of the films. In order to receive full credit for the discussion component, you will need to stay up-to-date with the readings so that you can make informed, thoughtful, and relevant contributions to the class. To stay on top of this grade, I recommend contributing to discussion at least a couple times each week.

While attendance will not be demanded, apart from the discussion grade, good attendance will be rewarded. Attendance will be recorded for every class, and those who have no more than two absences will have their final grade raised by one grade increment (from a B to a B+, for example).

Makeup's for Exam 1 and 2 will only be given for documented reasons presented to the instructor prior to the scheduled exam. All makeup exams will be given immediately following the final exam on the last day of class, and will be in an essay format. No absences will be allowed for the final exam, except for extreme reasons, such as medical emergencies (travel reservations are not a valid reason).

Unfortunately, a few students in every class are tempted to try to "beat the system" by dishonest means. Needless to say, such behavior will not be tolerated and will result in the perpetrator receiving a failing grade for the course, and they may then be referred to the University Judiciary for review. If you feel desperate about your progress in this course, please talk with me before resorting to such self-destructive behavior. My job is to help you learn, not to make you fail.

Required Materials:

The mandatory assigned text for this course, containing the bulk of the reading, is:
Introduction to Physical Anthropology/8th, by Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgore, and Trevathan

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have any questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible. Penn State also makes an effort to accommodate observation of religious holidays.

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