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MSCI-340P Nomad/Migrant/Refugee: A Natural History

3 Credits

  • MSCI-340P-01

Humans are the only species that has spread across the globe to live on every continent. Further, once we find a place to live we do not simply stay put. This course investigates the behavioral ecology of why we are such a mobile species. Using the comparative method, we will work to understand why and when other animals disperse and migrate as a means of understanding our own dispersal and migration patterns. We will further consider how our continual movement has made humans such a diverse species, despite having a relatively short evolutionary history, and what happens when we stop moving. Our ability to stay put and the emergence of a sedentary lifestyle was enabled by revolutionary changes to our means of acquiring and storing food. We will look at how and why we arrived at these technological advances, the ways that they modified the behavioral ecology of agriculturalist populations, and the broader ecological impacts on local communities. Finally, we consider what happens when environmental crises force us to become climate/environmental refugees, fleeing local conditions that can no longer support our ecological niche.