Mark Mescher: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2018

Name Prof. Dr. Mark Mescher
Dep. Umweltsystemwissenschaften
ETH Zürich, LFO G 19
Schmelzbergstrasse 9
8092 Zürich
Telephone+41 44 632 39 30
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science
RelationshipAdjunct Professor

701-1462-00LEvolution of Social Behavior and Biological Communication Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
Number of participants limited to 24.
3 credits2VM. Mescher
AbstractThis course addresses presents core concepts in the study of behavior and biological communication from a Darwinian perspective, with a focus on the evolution of sociality and the emergence of higher-level biological organization. It will entail lectures and discussion of selected readings from relevant primary and secondary literature.
ObjectiveStudents will become familiar with the application of Darwinian evolutionary theory to the study of behavior, communication, and social organization. They will also gain insight into the relevance of these topics for broader intellectual questions in biology, as well as for the organization of human societies.
ContentThis course will begin with an exploration of key concepts, including the central role of information in biology and Darwinian explanations for the emergence of adaptation and functional complexity in biological systems. We will then discuss the application of these concepts to the study of behavior and communication, with a focus on the evolution of social interactions. Significant attention will also be given to the evolution of cooperation among individual organisms and the emergence and maintenance of complex social organization. Finally, we will discuss the implications of the material covered for understanding human behavior and for the organization of human societies, including implications for implementing collective action to address global environmental challenges. These topics will be covered by lectures and discussion of relevant readings selected by the instructor. Evaluations will be based on in-class or take-home examinations, as well as participation in classroom discussions.