Humans: An Origin Story

What does it mean to be human? This FIG explores what it means to be a human being, and how humanness is shaped by biology (cells, genes, ecology, evolution) and culture (groups such as gender, class, family, nationality, religion, race), and how biology and culture are interconnected (health, food, opportunity, perception, circumstance).

College Connections Faculty: Larry Ulibarri

Dr. Ulibarri is an adjunct lecturer. He spent the past several years in Vietnam conducting research on the behavior and conservation of the red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus) and their habitat. His research included the social organization, ranging behavior, activity budgets, nutritional and feeding ecology of the doucs as well as climate, plant phenology, habitat evaluation, road ecology and anthropogenic effects.

His work contributed directly to a local conservation project for the red-shanked doucs at his study site. In close cooperation with the local authorities he and Dr. Ulrike Streicher developed and implemented education and outreach activities as well as measures to improve the conservation of his research population by restoring degraded habitat and setting up canopy bridges. Dr. Ulibarri has a passion for teaching and, having lived for five years in Vietnam, he brings in a strong interest to connect academic research with much needed conservation efforts on the ground.

FIG Assistant: Adriane Hershey


Summer Assignment

Please read the two articled linked below and then thoughtfully answer the following questions in a double-spaced, 2-page reflection.

PDF icon"How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment of Social Inequality"

  1. When Gravlee states that biology does not equal genetics, what does he mean? How does this relate to the idea that race is not a real biological concept, but a social construction?
  2. How would you answer Gravlee’s question: If race is not biology, what does it mean that there are such clear differences among groups within biological features, such as health?
  3. How can you relate this to other social groups, such as gender, sex, nationality, social class or economic status?

PDF icon"Homo Monstrosus"

  1. How can this relate to the way we view human evolution and our evolutionary position relative to other primates or animals?
  2. How does this relate to dynamics between social groups, including issues discussed by Gravlee?

Please write all of your answers in one document and email it to me by our first FIG meeting. My email is

Week of Welcome FIG Meeting

The first meeting for the FIG is Friday, September 22nd at 10:00 am in Columbia 150. Please arrive on time as we will be relocating shortly after.