Human Nature Concentration

Ancient cave paintings on a wall


The concentration focuses on human nature, the psychological and social traits that universally characterize humankind, especially in contrast with other species. From a nonsecular, scientific perspective, human nature is generally viewed as a function of our evolved biology, therefore, this concentration focuses heavily on human biology and evolutionary theory. Attention is also paid to the role of human nature in development and enculturation, for though humans are set apart in the depth and degree to which culture influences our psychological and social character, it is primarily by considering the pre-cultural capacities that are part of our human nature that we can account for the differences between human and other species in this regard. Hence, this concentration is designed to appeal to students interested in the broader influence on biology on human affairs.

The concentration builds on and integrates the foundations and strengths of the concentration’s contributing disciplines. The Anthropology Department at Lakehead is particularly strong in human evolution, which is reflected in many of the required courses for the major. Evolutionary theorizing and the subdisciplines that support it, namely genetics and ecology, are also central to any biology program. Although a Biology Major is not offered at Orillia, courses in genetics, ecology, and evolutionary theory (BIOL 2171, 2210, and 3671, respectively) are all compulsory courses for Biology Majors in Thunder Bay. Finally, the research focus of the sole psychologist in the department is evolutionary psychology, which is squarely focused on the study of human nature.

It is anticipated that this will be a popular concentration for students pursuing careers in the health sciences, who tend to be interested in human biology. It is also anticipated that this concentration will appeal to students who wish to bridge the natural sciences and the social sciences and humanities, as one of the key questions raised by the concentration is to what extent an understanding of our biology, i.e., insights from the natural sciences, can inform our understanding of human society and culture, i.e., the traditional concerns of the social sciences and humanities.  

Program Structure

The Human Nature Concentration is recommended for students in the Interdisciplinary Studies Major who are taking disciplinary courses in Anthropology, Biology and Psychology. Students should ensure they have the appropriate pre-requisites for upper-year disciplinary courses. Program details for the concentration can be found here.