Human Evolutionary Studies Program

Mark Collard


Over the last 150 years biology has been transformed by the adoption of Darwinian evolutionary theory to such an extent that, as the well-known geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky once put it, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". The extension of Darwin's insights to humans has been halting and controversial. This is particularly the case for human cognition and behaviour. However, we have now reached a point where the utility of such research can no longer be denied. It is now clear that Darwinian theory can be productively applied to many of the puzzles that scholars in the humanities and social sciences have long sought to explain, such as perception, thought and culture. Likewise, it has become increasingly apparent that Darwinian theory can shed new light on important social and health issues, including prejudice, interpersonal violence and schizophrenia.The purpose of the Human Evolutionary Studies Program (HESP) is to create an internationally- recognized research and training hub that will simultaneously advance the integrated understanding of the body, mind, behaviour and social institutions of Homo sapiens within the framework of evolutionary theory, and maximize the contribution of SFU researchers to this important, dynamic and publicly visible field of research. HESP will accomplish these goals by fostering collaborative relationships among diverse SFU faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and between these individuals and researchers in other institutions; by supporting novel, highly interdisciplinary research projects; by providing undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with world-class training that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries; and by disseminating the results of its research to academics in other fields, policymakers and the general public both directly and through the media