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The Secret Lives of Animals: A View into their Brains and Behaviors

Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Humans have the ability to learn, communicate and problem-solve. But are we alone? This hands-on, field trip and lab-based course will change the way you think about nature. We will investigate innate and learned behaviors, including but not limited to imprinting, social structures and animal communication. This course provides an introduction and overview of animal behavior. We will explore animal behavior and its evolution from a genetic, neural and hormonal view. We will use examples from many species, ranging from the fly to the chimpanzee, to demonstrate the complexities and conservation of several behaviors across organisms.

This is an inquiry-based course. Although there will be some lecture, the emphasis of this course is on learning through activities, observations and experiments. We will be conducting many labs, including a termite communication lab and a pill bug movement lab. We will also make observations on field trips, both at the Roger William Zoo, and on campus right outside of our classroom. Students will work in small groups to design an experiment using live laboratory specimens that will be tested during lab activities.

By the end of this course, students should have an appreciation of the complexity of animal behaviors and how alike we are to many species. Students should also demonstrate an understanding for the scientific method, and the difference between observational and empirical data.

Prerequisites: None required.