CCOG for ATH 101 Spring 2024

Course Number:
ATH 101
Course Title:
Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces biological anthropology and the study of evolution in the context of modern genetics and primate behavior studies. Examines human fossil record, diversity, and commonality of present and past populations of humankind. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The course is taught F2F, remotely and online. To be successful, students should read and write at the college level.  ATH 101-104 are standalone courses and do not have to be taken in sequence.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Discuss basic concepts and methods in biological anthropology.
  2.  Examine the process of human biological and cultural evolution over time.
  3. Identify how human beings influence the environment and are influenced by the environment in which they live. 
  4. Describe historical and contemporary issues in evolutionary biology and genetics, such as race, stem cell research, gene patents, eugenics, or ethical issues related to the excavation and study of the prehistoric skeletons from an anthropological perspective.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

General education philosophy statement

This course is a survey course that provides a broad and general introduction to the sub-field of biological anthropology. The course covers cultural and biological evolution of humans and other primates utilizing a study of genetics, evolutionary biology, and the fossil record. Primate societies are covered in order to gain insights into the evolution of human social organization, gender roles, sexuality and aggression. The social and cultural impacts of science upon human society are also considered through an examination of topics such as ethnic disease, eugenics, stem cell research, or gene patents. The course also explores how cultural biases can influence the goals or application of social knowledge and research, including the ethical issues of excavating and studying the remains of Indigenous people. Students taking this course will develop critical thinking and analytical skills to evaluate human biological and cultural evolution or adaptation utilizing genetic studies, evolutionary biology and the fossil record. They will also gain experience in intellectual problem solving by studying how species evolve or become extinct due to natural selection or other forces of evolution. Students will expand their knowledge of anthropological concepts, theories and methods related to evolution, and examine cultural and behavioral differences between prosimians, monkeys, apes and humans. Another important aspect of the course is the study of the different stages of human evolution and modern human diversity from an anthropological perspective. Students will consider systems of power or ethical issues related to topics such as stem cell research, gene patents, ethnic disease or the discovery, excavation and study of prehistoric skeletons. Students will also develop more cultural awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience throughout time by studying prehistoric cave art.

Aspirational Goals

  • Describe evolutionary theory and history
  • Discuss genetics and different aspects of the human genome
  • Analyze biological and behavioral similarities and differences between humans and other primates
  • Apply anthropology theories and methods to examine the stages of human evolution
  • Discuss how environmental, physiological and cultural adaptation is related to human biological diversity

Course Activities and Design

Course activities may include but are not limited to the following:

  • lectures
  • class discussions
  • papers
  • observational assignments
  • film reviews
  • studies of primates
  • analysis of fossils, stone tools or casts of prehistoric bones

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  •  exams
  •  quizzes
  •  student presentations
  •  term papers
  •  short papers or reports
  •  labs or other experiential exercises

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Human genetics and biology
  • evolutionary theory and history
  • primate studies
  • Stages of human evolution
  • Modern human adaptation and variation
  • Contemporary issues in evolutionary biology and genetics


  • Origins of Life
  • Human Origins
  • primate evolution and adaptation
  • human evolution and adaptation
  • Human Variation
  • stem cell research
  • gene patents
  • ethical issues related to the excavation and study of prehistoric skeletons


  • Time
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Natural Selection
  • Random mutation
  • gene flow
  • genetic drift
  • Chaos Theory
  • bipedalism
  • evolution of technology
  • Human Variation
  • Brain and Language development
  • cave art
  • Kennewick Man
  • Otzi the Ice Man
  • Tolland Man
  • gene patents
  • gene editing
  • stem cell research


  • Study Physical Anthropology at the College level
  • Learn about Human Biology and Evolution
  • make comparisons between humans and other primates
  • identify biological and behavioral differences between different species of prehistoric humans
  • learn about human biological diversity, adaptation and variation
  • consider ethical issues related to the study of biological anthropology