Evolution and Human Affairs - Online biology courses | Arts and Science ONLINE

Evolution & 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 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.



The 'project' of civilization is failing. If we want to know where we are headed, we need to understand how the past brought us to where we are now. In BIOL350, we examine the evolutionary roots of human motivations, culture, social life, and civilization, the evolutionary roots of the challenges that currently face our species, and hence the evolutionary roots of our future. Specifically, lecture topics explore how biological and cultural evolution interact in affecting how we think and behave, and hence how this interaction affects our understanding of a wide range of human affairs, including why we have arrived at our present predicament – the 'human condition'. An appreciation of this historical human journey is essential for guiding a new and improved Project of Civilization to replace the old one. Students in BIOL350 have an opportunity to be among the architects of this new project.


Winter 2020
Course Dates: 
Jan 6 - Apr 3, 2020
Exam Dates: 
Apr 9 - 25, 2020


10% - Two Synchronous Sessions
10% - Media Critique
20% - Poster Forum
20% - Concept Mapping
40% - Proctored Final Exam

**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.

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.


Professor Lonnie Aarssen (aarssenl@queensu.ca)

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.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

Computer Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 or newer
  • OSX 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer
  • Dual Core 2 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB Headset
  • Webcam

Supported Browsers

  • Chrome (preferred - latest version)
  • Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ
  • Edge is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ

Internet Connection

  • Wired high speed access: Cable or better
  • Wifi is not recommended


  • Latest version

Media Player

  • Flash (latest version)

Adobe Reader

  • Latest Version


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer Term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $685.90; for a 6.0-unit course, $1371.80 See also Tuition and Fees.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.