HLTH SC 3500 - Evolution and Human Health

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2015

Evolution impacts on human health in a number of ways and will continue to do so in the future. Evolutionary Medicine is a discipline at the cross section of medical and social sciences. It will introduce a student to the evolutionary origin of human health and disease and their interactions with a rich diversity of cultures through effects of diet, sexual behaviours and spiritual practices on human biological characteristics. Students will learn how forces of evolution (mutations, natural selection, gene flow, inbreeding, drift and assortative mating) operate in human populations and how they are modified by cultural and social practices. We live in a fast changing world which has numerous consequences for health and future biological structure of humans. Application of developing technologies, especially biotechnology and information technology will have a major impact on future human society and brain evolution. Students will learn how to integrate biological and social aspects of modern society into predictions of possible future course of human development.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code HLTH SC 3500
    Course Evolution and Human Health
    Coordinating Unit School of Medical Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge 6 units of level I Biology, 6 units level II Biomedical or Medical Sciences, Or first year of MBBS program
    Course Description Evolution impacts on human health in a number of ways and will continue to do so in the future. Evolutionary Medicine is a discipline at the cross section of medical and social sciences. It will introduce a student to the evolutionary origin of human health and disease and their interactions with a rich diversity of cultures through effects of diet, sexual behaviours and spiritual practices on human biological characteristics. Students will learn how forces of evolution (mutations, natural selection, gene flow, inbreeding, drift and assortative mating) operate in human populations and how they are modified by cultural and social practices. We live in a fast changing world which has numerous consequences for health and future biological structure of humans. Application of developing technologies, especially biotechnology and information technology will have a major impact on future human society and brain evolution. Students will learn how to integrate biological and social aspects of modern society into predictions of possible future course of human development.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Maciej Henneberg

    Course Coordinator: Maciej Henneberg
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5479
    Email: maciej.henneberg@adelaide.edu.au
    Location: Room N107, Medical School North

    Tutor: Arthur Saniotis
    Phone: +61 8 8313 3369
    Email: arthur.saniotis@adelaide.edu.au
    Location: Room N108, Medical School North
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Understand the forces of evolution: mutations, natural selection, gene flow, mating structure genetic drift, the concept of Darwinian adaptation.
    2 Understand how technology influences human evolution
    3 Understand future consequences of modern medical practices
    4 Describe microevolutionary changes of human anatomy and physiology
    5 Describe impact of migration, marriage customs and morality on forces of evolution
    6 Describe relationship between current medical practice and forces of evolution
    7 Describe ethical issues of evolutionary medicine
    8 Appreciate cultural differences in health outcomes
    9 Analyse health of communities in evolutionary perspective
    10 Engage in a meaningful, structured discussion of a specific case
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-4, 8
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 5, 9-10
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 5-8
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 10
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 6, 7, 10
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 7, 9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no set texts or set readings for this course. At each session lecturers may suggest a paper or a reference that students might choose to read. The course, however, places an emphasis on the ability to search for relevant materials oneself, according to the focus the student wishes to take. That is, this course involves self-directed learning.

    If a paper is required for discussion, a lecturer will provide that paper to students in advance of the session in which it is required.
    Recommended Resources
    Students must be familiar with the Barr Smith Library and must be able to use the electronic databases to search for literature.
    Online Learning
    Lecture notes will be posted on MyUni, when a lecturer provides these: however, it is not always the case that a guest lecturer will do so.

    The MyUni email facility will be used if a message needs to be relayed to the class in between sessions. Students must ensure that they read their university address emails regularly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course requires student-directed learning. That is, students must take responsibility in shaping the focus of their work, and in formulating arguments within that work. Lectures and seminars, both with interactive discussion are principal learning and teaching modes. Since the course attempts to integrate knowledge of a number of disciplines, active student participation in lectures and seminars is required. Lectures will integrate knowledge already possessed by students with new approaches to its interpretation as well as to supplement knowledge where it is found to be missing. Seminars will be fully interactive discussions focussing on specific topics, but allowing branching out into topics identified as important during discussions.
    Each student will prepare an oral presentation to start a seminar discussion and each student will write an essay on the topic chosen jointly by a student and a course coordinator so that student interests are provided for while the topic fits into the broader scope of course knowledge.
    Thus, students who prefer didactic teaching and a regurgitation of facts will possibly find this course unsuitable. Students who do not enjoy writing essays and who prefer an exam should not take this course.

    This course has a strong focus on formative feedback. This means that you are actively encouraged to bring pieces of work, including drafts, to the seminars for feedback and direction before submission for summative assessment (i.e. the marking which results in a grade). Students who do not wish to take responsibility for bringing drafts to seminars for feedback before the final submission, may not enjoy this course and may not do well in the summative tasks.

    This course is interdisciplinary and the class includes students from different areas and also comprises materials delivered by lecturers from different disciplines. Wherever possible students will be encouraged to work with students from a different degree programme than their own.

    This course encourages students to think, debate and challenge taken-for-granted ideas about health care. Students who do not enjoy class participation and who do not like to play with ideas and express them with others, may not find this course suitable.

    We treat students as adult learners and active participants in the course. Therefore, they are expected to take responsibility for their work and for what happens in discussions. Students’ views will be heard and where preferences for change are expressed, these will be considered and discussed by the group. The assessment cannot change, but other details around the course can be accommodated and will be where possible. Where things cannot be changed, a respectful explanation will be given.

    This course requires reflective learning. That is, students are required to think about how they are developing and how their ideas are changing – or not – as they hear, think, read, the course-related materials. They are required to then articulate an aspect of this reflection, in a written piece.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The face-to-face contact with the group is only four hours per week. However, students are expected to spend about at least another four hours per week on researching for their written tasks that comprise the assessment. In the past, some students have reported spending more than this amount of time on research and reading and writing. However, four hours would be the minimum time required.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Week

    Topic

    Lecture

    Week 1

    What is Evolutionary Medicine? Introduction to the subject, human origins and their consequences.

    The forces of evolution:  directional (mutation, selection) and non-directional (gene flow, inbreeding, assortative mating, drift). 

     

    Week 2

    Adaptive explanations of reaction to infectious diseases, epidemiological transition, hygiene hypothesis

    Role of mutations and natural selection in shaping human health.

     

    Week 3

    Host and parasite co-evolution, evolutionary history of major chronic infections: treponematoses, tuberculosis, leprosy

    Biodemography: application of demographic methods in human biology, demographic modelling

     

    Week 4

    Future medical developments: nanotechnology, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA

    Human ontogeny – the course of individual human life from conception to old age. Its socioeconomic correlates.

     

    Week 5

    Cultural roles of children, adolescents, adults and elderly – how they impact on health.

    Ageing and degenerative diseases.

     

    Week 6

    Mid-semester test

    The rise of neoplasms after the second epidemiological transition

     

    Week 7

    Forensic archaeology

    Bone chemistry and reconstruction of lifeways

     

    Week 8

    Modern maladaptations-drugs and other addictive agents; socioeconomic mental health inequalities

    Human dietary adaptations (“natural” human diet), mismatch with modern nutrition  

     

    Week 9

    Physical activity in the past and present sedentary lifestyle

    Understanding depression, an evolutionary approach

     

    Week 10

    Altered states of consciousness from an evolutionary perspective and their effect on psycho-physical well-being

     

    Psychological Health – the role of companion animals

     

    Week 11

    Microevolution of human anatomy, some examples

    Paleopathology - pitfalls and impact for medicine

     

    Week 12

    Ancient biological samples to study evolution of disease

    Cross-cultural nutritional practices and food taboos

     

    Week 13

    Sexually transmitted disease, social structure and public health

    Ethics in future medical practice and public health.

     

    Small Group Discovery Experience
    There are weekly 2-hour long seminars during which students make 15 mins presentations on topics related to this week’s lectures and then structured discussion follows by dividing the class into three small groups each with a task of addressing a specific question resulting from presentations.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Oral presentation Summative and formative 10% 1, 5, 10
    Mid-semester test Summative and formative 20% 1-4, 8
    Essay Summative and formative 30% 1-10
    Final examination Summative 30% 1-10
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must achieve a minimum of 50% (pass) for each of the tasks containing a summative component. Any supplementary assessments will take a form of viva voce examinations.
    Assessment Detail
    Each student will give one presentation. Oral presentations will be given during seminars. Each presentation will last 15 minutes with at least 5 minutes discussion. Understanding of the material presented and ability to interpret and discuss a specific issue in the context of evolutionary medicine interpretations will be assessed. Students will receive individual feedback from the tutor. Discussion will be structured by assigning students to groups that will either argue for or against the topic of the seminar. Students participating in discussion will be noted. Presentations will be assessed by tutors. Student active participation in seminars will be assessed by taking attendance (50%) and giving marks for quality of the contribution to discussion (50%).

    Mid-tem test (1 hour) will comprise short answer questions aimed at testing the knowledge and an essay question testing comprehension and ability to critically discuss relevant topics. An individual feedback will be provided to each student.

    Essay will test student’s understanding of a chosen broader area of knowledge included in the course and student’s ability to reason independently and to find relevant information.

    Formative feedback will be provided during tutorials for all tasks prior to submission for the summative grade. Please note that seeking formative feedback is the student’s responsibility. As an adult learner, the student must take responsibility for attending tutorials and asking specific questions about their work.

    The final written examination will test both knowledge of necessary facts and techniques, and the ability to interpret human variation, its causes and applications.
    Submission
    All essays must be written in a form of a manuscript of a scientific journal article and submitted by a specified deadline at the end of the semester. Late submissions of essays will be penalised. However, please note that the course coordinator welcomes discussion about problems with the submission of work, and extensions can be provided where there are health or personal issues that mean this is necessary. Late work with no explanation prior to late submission will be penalised.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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