Università degli studi dell'Insubria


Degree course: 
Corso di Second cycle degree in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (48 hours)

Ecological basis

Final Examination: 

Oral examination on the contents of the course (40%). Principal theories on the biological and cultural evolution of humankind (30%) Discussion on the main ecological theories dedicated to the study of human behaviour and the human-nature relationships (30%).

Voto Finale

The course aims to promote the ability to deal with ecological criteria the understanding of contemporary human behaviour in relation to the natural and social environment. For this purpose, special attention will be given to the human evolutionary process addressed in coevolutionary terms of biological and cultural structures.
It will also be a specific objective to form critical attitudes to the analysis of current patterns of perception of the nature and its values through a biological-cultural approach. A common objective of the previous ones will be the development of the ability to understand the genesis of the current socio-environmental challenges.
Skills: ability to select and use methods and theories for analyses and comparison of nature perception in concrete cases.

Reconstruction of the evolution of man-nature relationships in biological and cultural key with particular attention to the crucial points of human evolutionary history (13 hours). Genesis and evolution of the scientific bases of the theories concerning the collocation of humankind in the natural context (13 hours). Biological and cultural (co)evolution of humankind (20 hours). Evolution of human species and population grown (13 hours).
Analysis of current interactions, sustainable and not sustainable, between man and nature and analysis of current patterns of perception of the natural world (13 hours).

Biological and cultural nature:
Biological nature
What makes us human?
Neothenia (the chronic childhood of man)
Human nature or cultural nature?
The biological classification of man
The evolutionary path
Natural selection - the basic Darwinian model
Revolutionary scientific and cultural aspects of Darwinian theory

Human population growth:
The appearance of Homo sapiens
Human population growth model
Human population growth: the past
Human population growth: the case of the year 1000 in Europe
Human population increase: the case of the Black Plague (1346-1353)
Population growth: after 1700
Human population growth: the modern age
Birth rate decline
Human population growth: tomorrow
The demographic transition model
human population carrying capacity

Cultural and biological evolution:
Why culture?
Cultural evolution Vs. biological evolution
Culture as a biological phenomenon
Sociobiology and Memetics
Dual inheritance and biological-cultural co-evolution
Cumulative cultural evolution
An ecological and evolutionary approach applied to cultural models
Genetic Determinism and Eugenics
Leading forces of cultural evolution
Genetic and cultural adaptations to pathogenic forms

Evolution social organization:
Key characteristics of complex societies
Cooperation, altruism and selfishness
Collective/common goods
Mutual altruism
Parental selection and inclusive fitness
The arms race

Nature perception schemes:
Human-environment dualism
Ecological-cultural anthropological vision
Ecological and cultural niche. Niche construction
Perception patterns of nature:
Gibson (psychological ecology)
Lévy-Strauss (encoding/decoding)
Bateson (ecology of the mind)
Mature (autopoiesi)

Lectures presentations will be provided on the e-learning website
Texts: Principles of Human Ecology. Peter J. Richerson, Department of Environmental Science and Policy University of California:
Human Ecology - Basic Concepts for Sustainable Development. Gerald G. Marten

24 hours frontal lectures
48 hours lab
In the hours dedicated to the laboratory will be discussed collectively the theories related to the dualism of human and cultural nature of the species H. sapiens

Student meeting upon request