June 25, 2014

Learn About Evolutionary Biology with these 7 Talks

The theory of evolution is one of the keystone concepts in modern biological science. With this list of 7 talks, LearnOutLoud.com has selected a great list of free audio & video designed to help you learn about evolutionary biology. Collected here you will find several talks about evolution’s founding father Charles Darwin, as well as discussions that trace his theories into the modern era. Speakers and topics include primate specialist Jane Goodall, a concise introduction to dinosaurs, a history of human behavioral biology, and much more. Get started by clicking any of the links provided below:

1. Human Behavioral Biology

Certainly one of the best courses we’ve added into our new Free Courses Collection is Stanford University Professor Robert Sapolsky’s course on “Human Behavioral Biology”. Sapolsky is an award-winning professor, superstar lecturer, and author of numerous books including Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: A Guide To Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping. His course on “Human Behavioral Biology” is so good that The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) invited him to teach the course for their customers in an audio & video course entitled Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality. We’ve purchased and listened to that course in its entirety and it’s incredible! Now the course is being offered for free on video from Stanford University and it seems like basically the same course except more! The Teaching Company course runs 12 Hrs. and the free video edition at Stanford runs 36 Hrs. The course comprehensively covers human behavior from the perspective of biology from an in-depth look at the nervous system, limbic system, and hormones to the latest discoveries in neuroscience, genetics, and human evolution. Sapolsky attempts to give you a well rounded picture of the biology of human behavior today. And after that, he then takes a look at certain human behaviors which can be examined from this perspective including lectures on human sexual behavior, aggression, language, schizophrenia, and what makes up for the individual differences in humans. This 25-lecture course is available on video on YouTube.

2. The Life of Charles Darwin

This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Darwin, Darwinism, and the Modern World taught by Professor Chandak Sengoopta. In this lecture professor Chandak Sengoopta discusses the life of Charles Darwin covering the major events in Darwin’s life including his voyage on the HMS Beagle and his eventual publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. Professor Sengoopta covers a lot of Darwin’s life in a short amount of time while providing many interesting facts about the man whose theory of evolution by natural selection revolutionized biology and greatly affected many other areas of society from the late 19th century up to the present day.

3. Edward O. Wilson

Watch this streaming video from MeaningOfLife.tv featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist Edward O. Wilson. Host Robert Wright questions Wilson on many of his ideas including his once controversial thesis of sociobiology in which he argued that the human mind is shaped as much by genetic inheritance as it is by culture. Wright questions Wilson on his beliefs as a materialist, a biological determinist, and a secular-humanist. Wilson provides his opinions on intelligent design, free will, and how science and religion can potentially come together in order to save life on earth. This interview serves as an excellent introduction to the ideas of this highly influential biologist.

4. Jane Goodall on What Separates Us From the Apes

In this TED Talk from primatologist Jane Goodall, she discusses her many years spent with chimpanzees in Tanzania and the many ways in which she and other researchers have discovered that chimpanzees are similar to humans. From their ability to make tools to their emotional lives, Goodall lays out the characteristics of chimps that may make us second guess how they are viewed and treated. She then talks about how chimpanzees are being endangered and she connects this to the many ways in which the diversity of life and our environment are being threatened. At the end of the talk she gives reasons for hope by telling of some of the courageous acts of young people throughout the world that participate in the Roots & Shoots program she started. This talk is available on streaming video and video download from TED.com.

5. The Uniqueness of Humans

Delivered to the Stanford University graduating class, Professor Sapolsky sets out in just 30 minutes to describe the ways in which humans are separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. Topics discussed include aggression, theory of mind, and the golden rule. He ends the lecture on an inspiring note sharing how humans are the only species that can view a seeming impossibility and dedicate their lives to making it happen. This lecture is available on streaming video and downloadable MP4 video (click on the description on the YouTube page to access the MP4).

6. Charles Darwin: Evolution & Wonder

Charles Darwin turns 200 years old today and 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of his publication of On the Origin of Species. In this show from Speaking of Faith, host Krista Tippett speaks with Darwin biographer James Moore about Darwin’s relationship with religion and the spirituality of the natural sciences. Moore argues that Darwin was not attacking the idea of God with his theory of evolution, but was pointing to the mystery and complexity of the natural world. This talk is available on streaming audio and MP3 download through the Speaking of Faith website.

7. Introduction to Dinosaurs

This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Behold the Mighty Dinosaur taught by Professor Michael Drout. In this lecture Professor John Kricher provides a concise overview of what modern science currently knows about dinosaurs. A lifelong dinosaur lover, Kricher explains the basic facts, including size and weight ranges, dinosaur intelligence, and how they have survived into modern day in the form of birds. Ever since the first fossils were identified in the early 19th century, our dinosaur knowledge has evolved rapidly, and this lecture represents the most current developments.