Essays for Final Exam; EVO 301; GG; SP 2017


Of the following, four will emerge on the final exam – and you’ll be asked to complete three of these during the final exam period. Your encouraged to write drafts ahead of time and bring your work to Glenn or to one of the TAs to get feedback before the exam.

  1. Describe the ideas of “natural selection,” “adaptation,” “genetic fitness,” and “reproductive success.” In your essay, address how these concepts are inter-related. Finally, address what these concepts imply about understanding evolution at level of genes or of individual organisms (compared with evolution at the level of a species).
  2. Glass, Wilson, and Geher (2012) provide evidence that evolution training is hard to obtain in modern higher education. Provide a summary of their reasoning along with a summary of their data.
  3. Describe the specific idea of “Evolutionary Psychology” – including how it conceptualizes behavioral patterns. In your answer, be sure to address the metaphor of the “selfish gene.”
  4. A few of the readings address evolutionary studies (EvoS) as a truly interdisciplinary endeavor. Explain what “interdisciplinary” means in this context – along with some of the evidence provided in the readings that speak to the idea of EvoS as being particularly interdisciplinary. Finally, take all this information into account in commenting about the future of evolution in higher education.
  5. Describe the idea of “evolutionary mismatch.” In your answer, discuss some specific feature of human life that we can consider as “mismatched.” Explain this phenomenon in evolutionary terms. Finally, discuss how this concept of evolutionary mismatch can help us lead richer lives.
  6. Mandy Guitar’s introduction to Evolutionary Medicine took the stance that all health professionals should have a strong understanding of evolutionary principles. Explain why this is. She also spoke about the current amount of training that most medical professionals receive in evolutionary principles. Describe the general findings on this topic – as well as potential implications for healthcare.
  7. In Randy Nesse’s introduction to Evolutionary Medicine, he discussed several examples of health-related issues that are better understood when applying evolutionary reasoning. Describe two such examples. In your answer, be explicit about how evolutionary reasoning helps us better understand the phenomena at hand.
  8. Lauren Vigna provided a summary of how she applies evolutionary reasoning in her medical practice. She has a particular interest in issues of nutrition and exercise. Describe the evolutionary approach to nutrition and exercise that she employs – including how it relates to the topic of evolutionary mismatch. Finally, describe some of the implications for living that follow from the approach that she takes.
  9. Tom Nolen talked about lactose tolerance from an evolutionary perspective. Describe why lactose tolerance is of interest to evolutionists. Next, describe geographical patterns associated with lactose tolerance. In your answer, be sure to address the issue of whether lactose intolerance is best conceptualized as “a disorder.”
  10. David Puts’ work focuses largely on sexual selection in humans. Explain his basic ideas on how sex differences in voice can be understood from the perspective of sexual selection. In your answer, describe his findings on whether a relatively deep male voice seems to best come from pressures to attract mates or to deter rivals. Finally, describe how his work fits in with the general theme of sexual dimorphism – as well as what sexual dimorphism in a species implies about the evolutionary history of that species.
  11. David Sloan Wilson argues that large-scale sustainability efforts can only succeed if they are largely organized by relatively small groups. Describe the evolutionary reasoning that he employs to make this argument. Also, describe his basic idea of “multi-level selection” as well as how this idea can help us understand how to best develop sustainability programs.