Human Migration and the Origins of Agriculture

Spring 2023
Olympia
Day
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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When and where did humans originate and how did they disperse throughout the world?  When and where did plant and animal domestication arise, leading to the development of agriculture?  We investigate these questions through a combination of genomic, archaeological, and anthropological approaches.

In one strand, we will study the principles of evolutionary biology and probe the relationship between Homo sapiens and archaic humans, including the Neanderthals and Denisovans.  We will examine how recent advances in the extraction and analysis of ancient DNA has transformed our understanding of the history of human migrations and population mixtures.  We will explore the complex patterns of population flow, as farmers displaced hunter-gatherers in different regions of the world.

In a second strand, we will study the origins of agriculture.  What does the domestication of plants and animals mean both morphologically and genetically? What new archeological techniques are expanding evidence and pushing back dates of domestication? We will explore how the concept of “Centers of Origin” for plants and animals has changed from the time of Nikolai Vavilov, the Russian plant geneticist from the early 1900s.  Crop botany and plant morphology labs will complement this exploration.

We anticipate reading such authors as Jonathan Silvertown, David Reich, and Gary Paul Nabhan.  Program activities will include lectures, workshops, labs, and seminar.  Student learning will be assessed by a program portfolio, writing assignments, exams, and a lab notebook.

Registration

Spring 2023 Registration

Academic details

Paths
Entry
Intermediate
Preparatory For

biology and agriculture

Credits
16
Maximum Enrollment
50
Class Standing
Sophomore
Junior
Senior
Fees

$300 for entrance fees, conference registration, and program supplies. 

Schedule

In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Day
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E1107 - Workshop
Location
Olympia