October 1, 2021

In light of the recent protests and statements in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist organizing efforts, the College of Liberal Arts is highlighting how its courses incorporate issues related to Black Lives Matter. We will highlight one course each month.  You can view all of our courses here:

See the description below detailing how CLA faculty advance the anti-racist messaging of Black Lives Matter through assignments, readings, and pedagogical practices that affirm the lives, history, and culture of Black people across the globe. Descriptions fall into one of three categories—Long-Standing Practices, Recent Changes, and Future Plans—designed to demonstrate the ongoing nature of anti-racist efforts:

Instructor: Marcus Young Owl
Course: ANTH 315: Human Variation

In ANTH 315 I cover the race concept, its history, and discuss how it has been misused and show why it is considered invalid by modern science, ending that section with the official statement from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists stating that race is no longer considered valid.

In the next section of the course I do a survey of the history, legalities, and experience of several American ethnicities including the Black population, American Indians, and Mexican-Americans.  Asians and Europeans are also covered, but not as in depth as the other three groups.

The basis of human variation – genetic mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow – is discussed.  The last fourth of the course begins with current ideas regarding the origin of modern humans and the genetics of migration.  The rest of the course looks at acclimatization and biological adaptation, including limb lengths and body morphology, skin color, hair structure, unique adaptations of some human populations to such things as high altitude, finishing with a critique of studies that try to equate intelligence with ethnicity.