Evolution and Humanity for CQUE–Spring, 2023

Evolution and the Human Condition

Special Class Offered for Students of Chongqing University of Education

Spring 2023

Meetings to take place in Glenn’s WebEx Room

Spring 2023
Glenn Geher
Natural Science
Section A & B
Co-teacher: Diyi WANG (diyiapply@163.com)

Instructor: Glenn Geher, PhD (with Diyi Wang)

Contact by email at geherg@newpaltz.edu

Note that while I am in the United States, I will be more than glad to have video conversations with students using WeChat. Below is my WeChat code 


And note that Diyi Wang, as co-instructor, will be helping out quite a bit with communication and logistics. 

Welcome to Class!

Hi–I’m Glenn. And I am thrilled to have the privilege to work with you all and to help you learn about evolution and the human experience this summer! I have been teaching about evolution as it relates to human behavior since 1994, and this is a huge passion of mine. And I have been teaching students in Chongqing since 2018 and I have to say that I deeply enjoy working with students at your university. I find students at CQUE to be passionate, bright, and hard-working!

When people think of evolution, they often think about fossils or DNA. While evolution does relate to both fossils and DNA, it also relates to so much more – including the entire experience of being human (as you will see in this class!).

Think about the following questions:

  • Why do people get jealous in relationships?
  • Why do we find some foods pleasant and other foods disgusting?
  • Why do we take so much care of our children?
  • Why is it sometimes hard for people to eat healthy foods?

… and more!

As I see it, the concept of evolution touches every single aspect of our lives. You can think of this course as a journey into that world–a journey into the interface of evolution and what it means to be human. And we will have fun along the way!

Process for most class periods: Students will watch a video that I create based on the content. This will be followed by a structured discussion about the content.

The class periods are broken into units that are 150 minutes long. Most units will include: 

  1. A reading about the content (that you will do ahead of time)
  2. A watching of a video of me discussing the content (about 45-60 minutes each)
  3. A discussion about the content (based partly on questions that about the readings that you will submit (as teams; see below) at the start of these class periods. 

A Note on Team Building: Diyi Wang will work with me and with all of you to help form groups of 6-7 students. Each group will have a dedicated spokesperson who will communicate and represent to me and Diyi Wang. These teams will work to do two basic tasks: 1. To develop questions to be asked about the readings 

Printed Questions about the Readings (6% of grade) (due at start of class periods 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8; successful submission will count as 1% of your grade (for everyone in the group); In total, this component of the course will count for 6% of the individual grade for each student). Before the class periods for Units 1-6, all students are to have completed the required readings for the upcoming class period (so do the reading that is assigned BEFORE the class period). Working together within the groups, students will come up with questions (between 1-3 questions) that must be typed and printed and ready to submit to Diyi Wang at the start of the class period. These questions will be used to facilitate the discussion part of the class period. 

NOTE that for all of these units except for Unit 5, you will have an asynchronous class the next day. For those dates, you should use the time to work together to develop these questions. For Unit 5, you’ll need to make time to develop these questions outside of class time. Also, note that for Unit 8, the topic will actually be student presentations. So students will need to develop questions based on the student presentations that they will have observed the day before.

GROUP Creative Assignment (44% of grade). DUE PRIOR TO CLASS ON APRIL 26. Presentations will be given by groups during the final two class periods. The order of the presentations will be chosen by a haphazard and/or random process. 

This assignment is designed to allow you to be creative. The basic assignment is for you to create some product related to the course content. The one rule is this: You must use at least 10 of the concepts included in the Darwin’s Definitions article (included in the required reading for this class). The ten you use are up to you.

Note that this assignment is a group assignment (and will be done by your teams that you have been working with). The product that you come up with needs to show a strong and deep understanding of the 10 concepts that you choose to incorporate. With this said, the kind of product that you create is really up to you. Examples might include:

  • A short story
  • A poem
  • A song
  • A video
  • A play
  • A research proposal
  • A summary of research in the field of evolutionary psychology

Feel free to meet with me ahead of time about this project. And make sure to clearly demarcate each of the technical terms that you use so I can see that you have used at least 10 of them. You can underline, boldface, etc. HERE is an example – A short story I wrote called Chaska’s Story

Diyi Wang will help with the logistics of this part of the class. And it will be fun!


Exam (50% of grade): The exam will be a multiple-choice exam addressing the many concepts from the readings and videos. An article of mine that includes items that are similar to those which will be on the exam itself is found here. This article can serve as a study guide / practice exam for you. 




Unit Number and Date Time (Beijing time) Content Reading 
1* 2/22 7:30-10:00 What is Evolution? And how does it relate to the human experience? (Watch video; discuss) Geher, G. (2014). Evolutionary Psychology 101. New York: Springer.

PDF: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-1.pdf 

2* 3/1 7:30-10:00 Natural Selection in Action!

An activity that will require the following: 

  • Blank paper (about 5 sheets per student)
  • Colorful crayons or markers
  • Tape
  • Imagination!
Geher, G., Rhodes, T., Di Santo, J. M., Goldstein, A. R., & Newhook, K. (in press). Crayons, Darwin, and the Evolution of Life: A Drawing-Based

Activity to Demonstrate Natural Selection. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium.


PDF: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-2.pdf 

3* 3/8 7:30-10:00 Darwin’s Definitions: The Language of Evolution (Watch video; discuss) Geher, G. (2018). Darwin’s Definitions. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201804/darwins-definitions

PDF: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-3.pdf 

4* 3/22 7:30-10:00 Human Universals (Watch video; discuss) Geher, G. (2018). Beyond Diversity. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201805/beyond-diversity

PDF: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-4.pdf 

5* 3/29 7:30-10:00  

Evolutionary Mismatch (Including Evolution and Education) (Watch video; discuss)

Geher, G. (2013). 10 Ways our Lives are Out of Whack. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201311/10-ways-our-lives-are-out-whack

Geher, G. (2018). Darwin’s Tips for Kindergarten Teachers. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201805/darwin-s-tips-kindergarten-teachers 

PDFs: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-5.pdf 


6* 4/5 7:30-10:00 Evolution and Altruism (Watch video; discuss) Geher, G. (2016). The Selfless Gene. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201603/the-selfless-gene

PDF: https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/files/UNIT-6.pdf 

7 4/12 7:30-10:00 Applications of evolutionary psychology
8 4/26 7:30-10:00 Student Presentations!
9 5/10 7:30-10:00 Student Presentations!
10 5/17 7:30-10:00 Review for Exam (Exam will take place on Thursday, 5/18 at 8:00)

*Asynchronous Thursday class follows

Note that on Wednesdays, we will have the “synchronous” component of class. The schedule for that is in the table above.

On the following Thursdays,  there will also be asynchronous class periods (we will not meet in real-time together–but I will give you structured assignments). These events will take place from 8:00-10:00 on the following dates:

2/23, 3/2, 3/9, 3/23, 3/30, and 4/6. And the final exam will take place on Thursday, May 18 at 8:00.

During the asynchronous meeting times, you are to meet with your group and contact Diyi Wang to help organize. Your main task each week will be to come up with a list of at least five questions that you have related to the content for that particular week. The team leader will present some of the questions during the following week’s class.


GRADING (for the part of your grade determined by Glenn’s portion of the class):

  • Exam: 50% (Graded on scale of 0% to 100%)
  • Project/Presentation: 45% (Pass (100%) or Fail (0%))
  • Written questions (from your group) presented to Diyi Wang (in paper) at the start of each class meeting 5% (Pass (100%) or Fail (0%)); For Units 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6 only). 


Course Policies: Students are expected to maintaining the highest possible ethical standards. Any instances of cheating or other forms of academic dishonesty will not reported to the university’s administration. 


Note: Students should not expect exceptions to any details on this syllabus. This said, if extenuating circumstances exist, accommodations may be made. 



Bottom Line: Teaching students and helping them grow is my passion; I look forward to working with you this summer!