Level: Graduate Seminar
Description: Like all animals, humans turn food energy into offspring, but, uniquely, humans also convert energy into art, music, and sport. Cultural influences on non-reproductive efforts and the human ability to survive and thrive across the planet are fascinating from an energetic perspective. This class examines the basic components (basal metabolic rate, physical activity, and thermoregulation for example) of human total energy expenditure (TEE, kcal day-1) and the important interactions among these components that affect overall energy budgets. As knowledge of human TEE has deepened, so too has the ability to interpret observable patterns in human metabolic physiology, such as limits on the amount of calories humans are able to burn and how those limits may mediate life history variables. We will also look at some of the new theories aimed at explaining these observed patterns. However, anthropological work on how humans interact with their environments to acquire and use energy does not occur within a vacuum. The growing obesity epidemic and public interest in ways to improve health and well-being means that human energetics research is highly sought after by a broad lay audience. As such, you will be expected to give short presentations aimed at the general public to hone your communication skills.