Evolution and Human Affairs

BIOL 350/3.0


An exploration of how evolutionary thinking can affect our understanding of our lives, our species, and our ability to share the planet with other species. LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;24O;60P)

Learning Outcomes

After completing BIOL350, students will be better equipped to:

  1. identify and define the urgent challenges facing human civilization today, and why many authorities warn that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained;
  2. describe how and why the effects of Darwinian evolution have brought us to this critical stage in the history of humanity;
  3. explain how an understanding of this ‘human journey’ helps to account for a wide range of contemporary human affairs and cultural norms; 
  4. evaluate why philosopher, Blaise Pascal considered that, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone” (Pensées, 1670) ― and why poet, T.S. Eliot mused, “…humankind cannot bear very much reality” (No. 1 of Four Quartets, 1943);
  5. predict how the genetic legacies inherited from our ancestors, and how our continuing evolution as a species — informed by both natural selection and cultural selection — are likely to affect our human natures, our social lives, and our cultures in future generations;
  6. participate in prescribing a way forward for the design of a new, more sustainable, and more humanistic model of civilization for our descendants.



Winter 2023
Course Dates
Delivery Mode


10% - Topic Sessions (live)

  • Questions of the Day Survey (1 x 2%)
  • Participation in Topic Sessions (2 x 2%)
  • Survey and Reflection (2 x 2%)

10% - Media Critique

  • Critique Submission (1 x 5%)
  • Peer Feedback (1 x 5%)

20% - Poster Gallery

  • Poster Submission (1 x 15%)
  • Peer Feedback (1 x 5%)

20% - Couse Concepts

  • Concept Map Submission (2 x 5%)
  • Participation Evaluation (2 x 5%)

40% - Proctored Final Exam

*Please NOTE: Students must attempt the Final Exam in order to pass the course.

**Evaluation Subject to Change**

Live Sessions

This course has required live sessions (e.g. webinars, synchronous activities). Please consult the Timeline in the first week of class.

Proctored Exams

If a student is enrolled in ONLY online courses (section 700), they may choose either of the following options to write the exam:

  • Write the final exam online: you will write in onQ with Examity proctoring. A $100 online exam fee will be charged to your SOLUS account.  
  • Write the final exam in-person: you will write on Queen’s campus in Kingston. You will not be charged an extra fee to write on campus. 

If a student is enrolled in ANY in-person courses (section 001, 002, etc), you MUST write all your final exams in-person on Queen’s campus, including for an online course. You may not choose to write your exams online. 

Location and Timing of Final Examinations

Once the exam schedule has been finalized the exam date will be posted on your SOLUS account. The exam dates for each Term are listed on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage under "Important Dates." Student exam schedules for the Fall Term are posted via SOLUS immediately prior to the Thanksgiving holiday; for the Winter Term they are posted on the Friday before Reading Week, and for the Summer Term they are individually noted on the Arts and Science Online syllabi. Students should delay finalizing any travel plans until after the examination schedule has been posted. Exams will not be moved or deferred to accommodate employment, travel/holiday plans or flight reservations.

Instructor Information

Professor Lonnie Aarssen (aarssenl@queensu.ca)

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

The required textbook/materials for this course are:

  • Aarssen (2022) What Are We? Exploring the Evolutionary Roots of Our Future. Queen’s University.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week (120 hours per term) on study/practice and online activity for this course.