About the Minor

Anthropology, biology, economics, history, psychology and sociology each include a disciplinary focus on the origins and current consequences of individual and group behavior and social outcomes. However, among disciplines — and even within disciplines — there is disagreement about the relative importance of genes, natural environment, individual rational choice and sociocultural construction on individual and group behavior, cultures and social institutions.

Historical views have ranged from strong biopsychological determinism, to environmental determinism and individual rational choice, to strong sociocultural determinism. Views on the origins and current functions of behavior, culture and society can and often do affect social policy; extreme views have provided the intellectual rationale for eugenics, racism, sexism, imperialism, laissez-faire capitalism, and collectivization and cultural revolution. On a positive note, interdisciplinary progress in understanding the origins and functions of human behavior, cultures and societies has contributed to progressive reforms in the areas of mental health, public health, laws and criminal justice, education, intercultural understanding, and programs to provide economic and social opportunity for the underprivileged.

Views on questions of human nature have tended to become polarized between the biological (biology, evolutionary psychology, biological anthropology) and the social science (social psychology, cultural anthropology, history, sociology) poles. This dialectical relationship between the social and biological sciences, and the corresponding dialogue between both, forces both sides in this rich debate to refine their positions and exposes students to a deeper understanding of the foundations of the respective disciplines and their impact on the world.

Core Requirements

Students are required to complete the following courses:

Required Courses

  • HIST270 Introduction to Culture, Society & Biology 
  • BY/PY340 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 
  • BY/PY357 Human Cognitive Evolution 
  • SAS300 Arts and Sciences Seminar (1 cr)

Independent Study

Students must take an independent study course under the mentorship of their advisor:
SAS499 Biology, Behavior and Society Minor Portfolio (1 cr)

Core Electives

Students are required to complete one course from each of the following:

Category 1

  • ANTH220 Understanding the Americas 
  • ANTH225 Global Perspectives on Sexuality 
  • ANTH230 Introduction to Race and Ethnicity 
  • ANTH270 Environment, Technology and Society 
  • ANTH325 Sex and Commerce 
  • ANTH330 Men and Masculinities 
  • HIST320 Medicine and Society in America 
  • HIST326 Modern Sex 
  • HIST327 History of Women in America 
  • HIST328 History of Gender and Sex 
  • HIST329 History of the American Family
  • HIST342 War and Gender 
  • HIST350 History of Nazi Germany 
  • HIST351 History of the Holocaust
  • SOC330 Health, Wealth, Inequality and the Environment 
  • POL/SOC350 International Development and Social Change 
  • SOC385 Food and Society 
  • SS220 Introduction to Gender 

Category 2

  • BY/PY319 Current Readings in Animal Behavior 
  • BY/PY358 Animal Learning and Cognition 
  • BY460 Neurobiology 
  • BY420 Evolution 
  • EC384 Game Theory and Economic Strategy 
  • HIST/PY459 Neuroscience and Society 
  • OS286/PY286 Organizational Behavior 1 
  • PY253 Social Psychology 
  • PY310 Human Sexuality 
  • PY315 Personal Relationships 
  • PY360 Learning and Memory 
  • PY453 Advanced Topics in Social Psychology 
  • PY461 Judgment and Decision Making 
  • PY463 Health Psychology