The Evolution of Courses in Evolutionary Medicine

  • Bethany Usher George Mason University


LOCATION: Dewberry Hall, Johnson Center (Ground Floor); Group B 4:45-5:15pm


Evolutionary perspectives on disease first began to be formally introduced in courses in the 1990s, with the

publication of Why We Get Sick (Nesse and Williams, 1994), although medical anthropologists have been

taking a biocultural approach towards studying health since at least the 1960s ( and

biological anthropologists formalized paleopathology as a field in 1973 (paleopathologyassociation. The author began teaching an undergraduate course on evolutionary

medicine, paleopathology, and demography in 2002. That course has evolved into two courses that have

been taught almost continuously in three different institutions (SUNY Potsdam, St. Lawrence University, and

George Mason University). These courses are continually evolving. The author now teaches both classes at

undergraduate and graduate levels, and they serve as electives for students in anthropology, biology, public

health, and nutrition programs.  This poster visually shows the evolution of aspects of the course(s) over time.

Author Biography

Bethany Usher, George Mason University

Dr. Bethany M. Usher, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education , takes students to graveyards - she is a biological anthropologist who studies the health and social structure of past communities by investigating their cemeteries. She is passionate about getting students to apply their classroom experiences and learn how exciting it is to tackle intellectual challenges. Since 2017, Dr. Usher has overseen Mason's undergraduate curriculum, including the Mason Core (general education), and academic programs through the Undergraduate Council and Curriculum Impact Grants. Currently, she is developing the Mason Impact experiential learning initiative, starting the process of re-designing the Mason Core, and reorganizing student advising and planning through academic themes.

4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group B- 4:45-5:15pm)