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Course Information

Instructor Info:Pamela Stone
Office Extension x6203
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 333
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 333

This course focuses on the science of human genetic and biological variation. How does variation come about in evolution? Which variations have adaptive and functional significance and which are "just differences"? What is the evolutionary explanation, distribution, and significance of human variation in, for example, sickle cell anemia, skin color and sports performance? How are individuals grouped, how are differences studied, and to what purpose? How did the idea of "natural" races arise, and how and why, despite key scientific flaws, does it persist? This semester we will focus on the idea of race as a genetic construct versus lived, social reality and in particular, how race is used in biomedical research. Finally, we will examine health inequalities by race and the potential mechanisms by which racism may lead to poor health.

Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluations (grades for 5-college students) will be based on attendance and participation in the class. All students are expected to read assigned readings, as they are crucial for participation, and to write a short paragraph on each reading - to be turned in on the day the reading is due.  Over the semester there will be two writing assignments to help students work with primary literature. A final project/paper is also expected and will be based on individual interests and ideas from readings and/or class discussion. Students will have the opportunity at the end of the semester to briefly present their research to the class.

ATTENDENCE AND PARTICIPATION: Students are expected to attend all classes, 2 unexcused absences are grounds for failing (no-eval/F) this course. In addition all students are expected to read assigned readings, as they are crucial for participation and you are expected to contribute to discussions. Participation will also be assessed based on final presentation of your final paper (see below description of final papers).

ASSIGNMENTS: Over the course of the semester there will be 3 formal writing assignments; and a short-writing/explications of each readings – due each class meeting time.  These assignments will be based on lecture, discussions, videos, and required readings, as well as your own topic of choice. These include:

  • Summary /critique of a primary article (handed out in class)
  • Summary/critique of a primary article related to the topic of your choice (ideally your final paper topic)
  • Final paper (see below)
  • Short explication of each reading due every class there is reading assigned throughout the semester. 

FINAL PAPER: All students are expected to write a final paper, on the topic of their choice generated from individual interests and ideas from readings and/or class discussion, and done in consultation with the professor. At the end of the semester students will present their research to the class.


Each of these assignments should be neatly typed and edited for content, grammar, and spelling before you turn in your final copy. Be sure to keep a hard copy and a back-up version of the assignments you turn in.  In the case of a “lost assignment”, the responsibility is yours to turn in an additional copy of (or rewrite) the assignment. Last minute computer crashes or lost files are not excuses for missing the deadline of any assignment.  In addition these assignments are to be your own work (essays and critical discussions) and are to have clear citations of all referenced materials and information. Please make yourself aware of the “Ethics of Scholarship” at: . 

Additional Info:


Readings for this course are drawn from anthropological texts and journals across many disciplines and represent both past and current research (primary and secondary literature). It is your responsibility to read these materials.

  • Our first set of readings (1-6) come from, Selected Material from Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Jurmain, R., et al. (2009) Wadsworth Publishing
  • The remaining readings are noted, on the day they are due, by author and date (name, date) on the syllabus and can be found in .pdf on the course website (noted above).

NOTE: Reading assignments are listed by the date that they are due. Students are expected to be prepared with the readings as they facilitate the discussion in the class. 

Additional readings may be assigned.

Please bring a hard copy of each day's required reading to class. (Laptops pose a distraction and are not allowed unless specific accommodations are requested or on days as noted in the syllabus.)

Help is available

I cannot stress this point enough.  Part of your Hampshire education is not only learning new concepts and ideas, but also figuring out how to ask for assistance when you need it. If you are struggling with course materials or are experiencing other difficulties that interfere with course work, please get in touch with me immediately.  I can’t help you if I don’t know there’s a problem.

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with me by our second class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students should also contact Joel Dansky, Hampshire’s Disabilities Service coordinator. He may be reached at 413-559-5423 or via email For more information, please see the Disabilities Services webpage:


Please turn off all cell phones, Blackberries, pagers, and other distracting, ringing, singing, texting, non-course-related machines. If you have a reason to take a call in class (home emergency, doctor, etc…) you must let me know before class starts – and your phone should be set on vibrate.

Laptops are allowed in class for presentations and/or for designated in-class research only – this will be noted on the syllabus or announced in class.  You should be fully engaged during class lectures and discussions, and laptops are a serious distraction to the user and those around him or her.  I will allow exceptions to this rule only in cases of a documented learning difference or other extenuating circumstances.  If you require permission to use a laptop during class, please consult with me privately within the first two course periods.  If you are granted permission, you are expected to use the laptop for course purposes only.


Hampshire College is part of a broader community of scholars, a community where ideas, hypotheses, new concepts, and carefully established facts are the currency. None of us, faculty or students, are able to survive without borrowing from the work of others. Just as we expect to have our work recognized in examination reports; reappointments and promotions; or the footnote of those who borrow from us, so must we carefully recognize those from whom we borrow.

Plagiarism, whether intentional or not is a serious offence. You are tasked with understanding the rules and standards or scholarship as well as the specifics of appropriate citation. If you have questions or concerns about what constitutes plagiarism, please ask. Non satis non scrie (not to know is not enough).