Course Syllabus

ANTH 022: Humans as Primates


Credits 3
Prerequisites None
Delivery Web (Canvas,
Dates See the Calendar.
Instructor See the Orientation module under the Modules tab.


This course is intended to introduce the student to the biological basis of human anatomy and behavior by drawing comparisons to the behavior and biology of our closest living relatives, non-human primates. The principal goal of the course is to critically evaluate arguments concerning what makes us uniquely human and the role of genetics, environment, and evolutionary history on the development of human behavior and anatomy. The course will draw heavily on studies of living non-human primates as well as evolutionary theory, paleontology, and psychology to address issues such as human growth and development, diet, human variation, communication, intelligence, reproduction, aggression, and culture. The course is divided into six thematic units each designed to present a set of related lessons exploring the role of biology in various aspects of human life, including:

  1. The Place of Humans in the Natural World: We will look at primate features, biodiversity, and human evolution.
  2. Human Biology: We will examine issues such as life history and diet.
  3. Human Variation: We will explore the range and origin of certain aspects of Human Variation.
  4. Communication: We will explore human language, intelligence, and sociality.
  5. Social Behavior: We will explore reproduction, aggression, and culture.
  6. What Makes Us Human: We will discuss “What makes us human?”.

While a deep understanding of evolutionary theory is not a prerequisite for this course, recognition of evolution as a way to understand biological processes and biological variation is essential for understanding the topics discussed in this course. While some people may disagree or not accept evolution for one reason or another, this course is not the venue to debate those topics. If for any reason you have reservations about evolutionary theory, please email the course instructor to discuss whether or not you should continue with this course.


At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize the diversity of living primates and the relationship of humans to other primates
  2. Identify how human behavior and biology are both similar to and different from that of other primates
  3. Recognize how studying other primate species can inform our understanding of human anatomy and behavior
  4. Evaluate arguments regarding important social and biological issues such as human variation, race, human intelligence and language, aggression, and the genetic and hormonal basis of human behavior
  5. Read graphs and charts, understand techniques of data collection in the biological and anthropological sciences, and evaluate arguments presented in the scientific literature and popular media


This course is made up of 15 lessons. In most lessons, you will complete the following activities and assignments:

  • Explore online course content.
  • Read assigned readings.
  • Complete lesson assignments (i.e., discussions, written assignments, quizzes).

In addition, you will you also complete two exams throughout the semester.

Generally, you will be introduced to the course information through the readings and lessons and will explore this information further through discussions with your fellow classmates and through critical thinking and practical exercises that you will complete on your own. The weekly assignments and quizzes are designed to reinforce the material and help you prepare for exams. Please consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Online Learning and Attendance

This course has been developed to promote asynchronous learning. The instructor and students do NOT meet on a designated day and time each week. Students will have a designated timeframe (as identified on the course calendar) to complete all readings and assignments for each lesson. Students may work at their own pace within this timeframe. However, you must adhere to the due dates outlined on the Calendar. (Due dates can also be viewed under the Syllabus tab.) Students are expected to log onto the course daily to check for updates, review lessons, participate in activities, and check course communications (i.e. updates and emails from the instructor).



There is no textbook for this class.  Instead, all readings will be assigned through Course Reserves. All assigned readings are required unless otherwise noted.

Course Reserves

There are electronic resources on reserve for this course that can be accessed through the Penn State Libraries. To access your Course Reserves, please use the Library Resources link in the course navigation menu.

For any questions you may have about searching, viewing, or printing your Course Reserves, refer to the Viewing/Printing Electronic Reserves page at And for more general information about taking advantage of the wide variety of resources provided by Penn State Libraries, refer to the Online Student Library Guide at

Any additional readings or supplemental materials will be provided by your instructor via Canvas. All assigned readings are required unless otherwise noted.

Technical Support

The General Questions discussion forum should be the first recourse for communicating specific questions or problems related to course content or course-related materials. The Technical Help discussion forum should be the first recourse for communicating technical problems. Students are encouraged to respond to the problems and questions posted their by their peers.

Your message will be sent automatically to this course's technical support team, which is available 8am-5pm ET, Monday-Friday. Alternatively, you may click on Help for additional technical support resources. Please use the forms available on the Help website whenever possible and an Canvas support expert will assist you. When you report a problem, please be specific. Vague descriptions of the problem only delay assistance. Turnaround time is generally less than one business day.


Final letter grades will be assigned based on the scale below. 


A 95 636.5
A- 90 603
B+ 88 589.6
B 82 549.4
B- 80 536
C+ 78 522.6
C 70 469
D 60 402
F 0 0

Due Dates

All assignments are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the date indicated on the Calendar. (Due dates can be also be viewed under the Syllabus tab.) Students will not be able to go back and complete course work after the deadline has passed; it is your responsibility to keep up with your assignments and submit them in a timely manner. Waiting until the evening of the deadline to begin an assignment or lesson is highly discouraged. It is your responsibility to keep up with your assignments. All deadlines are in Eastern Time (EST/EDT). Please be aware of time differences if you live outside of this time zone and changes due to daylight savings time. If you are outside of the ET time zone, you can set your Canvas account to sync to it. Refer to the Set a Time Zone article in the Canvas Guide (Links to an external site.) at

Students with an excused absence (hospitalization, jury duty, or family emergency) may be asked to produce proper documentation in order to make up graded work. All make-up work is at the discretion of the instructor.

Note on Late Assignments: No late assignments will be accepted. All work must be completed by the due date.

Note on Feedback: You can expect feedback on written assignments within one week of the deadline.


Basic information about each assignment group is provided in the next section. For detailed directions about an individual assignment, see the assignment information under the Modules tab.

Quizzes 130
Weekly Assignments 340
Mid-Term Exam 100
Final Exam 100
Total 670

There are also 45 points worth of Extra Credit available within the course.

Instructor Feedback and Response Time

Your instructor will reply to your questions, concerns, and comments in a timely manner, not to exceed 2 business days. If you do not receive a response in this time frame, please contact the instructor again. The instructor will NOT respond to emails asking for information that can be found in the syllabus. If you are confused about information in the syllabus, please state this specifically.

The General Questions or Technical Help discussion forums should be the first recourse for communicating specific questions or problems. Students are encouraged to respond to the problems and questions posted by their peers. If you need to contact the instructor by email, please use the Canvas email system. When corresponding with your instructor or classmates, please use appropriate, professional language and etiquette. Email correspondence should be free of grammatical and mechanical errors. Email language should be professional, including addressing the recipient and signing your name. It is not appropriate for your email to look or sound like a text message in any type of instructional setting.


Value: 13 x 10 PTS, 130 PTS total

Each lesson consists of a combination of readings, online learning materials, and activities.  At the conclusion of most lessons, there will be a short 10-question quiz on the subject matter covered in that lesson. The questions will be multiple choice and true/false and will be drawn from the readings and the online course materials (lectures). You will have one chance to take each Lesson’s quiz (when there is one) and you must have completed the quiz by 11:59 PM ET on date specified in the course schedule.

You will have one chance to take each quiz. You are encouraged to study from the quizzes to help with your exam preparation. Once you open a quiz, it must be completed within the time frame. You may NOT save, and the clock cannot be stopped once you have started. Refer to the Course Calendar for due dates.

Note: We do NOT recommend taking quizzes using the Canvas mobile app; use the web version of Canvas.

Weekly Assignments

Value: 5x20 PTS + 8x30 PTS = 340 PTS total

For most of the weekly Lessons throughout the semester, you will have three types of assignments to complete based on the material covered in the lesson: Discussions, Worksheets, and Short Essays.


Six of these assignments will be online class Discussions in which students will post responses to discussion questions in Canvas. Each student must post their response to the questions and respond to at least two other classmates’ posts (or lose 5 points automatically). The responses must demonstrate a thorough reading and comprehension of the lesson material, use complete sentences and follow the reference requirements. The three posts (original + two replies) must be submitted to the forum within the time frame of the lesson (see calendar).

Refer to the Discussion Forum Rubric for grading expectations. You can also view this within each Discussion Forum assignment.

Note: If you are using a mobile device, you may not be able to view the rubric from within the discussion forum, you may need to view it from the Orientation section.

**Please note that initial discussion posts are due by 11:59 PM ET on THURSDAY of the assigned week, and comments on classmates’ posts are due by 11:59 PM ET on SUNDAY.**


Four of the assignments are short-answer Worksheets in which students will respond to questions using short-answers (usually 2-5 sentences) based on the Lesson material. The questions usually involve internet or book-based research about primate species. The answers must follow appropriate sentence, spelling and grammar rules. Make sure to include the appropriate references (see the Citation FAQs).

Short Essays

Three of the assignments are Short Essays (250-500 words, not including references) that answer prompts based on the Lesson material. The essays must be in essay format, use proper grammar and spelling, and include references cited (or works cited). Short essays will be submitted to a corresponding dropbox.

All assignments will be available on the course Canvas site. Refer to the Course Calendar for topics and due dates.

Note: We do NOT recommend completing assignments using the Canvas mobile app; use the web version of Canvas.


Value: 2 x 100 PTS, 200 PTS total

Mid-Term Exam

A mid-term exam will be administered online covering the first half of the course material. The exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice, true/false, matching, and fill-in-the-blanks questions. The mid-term exam will be available online for a three-day period starting at 12:00 AM ET and ending at 11:59 PM ET on the dates outlined on the calendar. You must login and complete the exam during this period. The exam is time-limited so once you log on and begin the exam, you must complete it within the time limit.

Final Exam 

A cumulative final exam will be administered online following the conclusion of the course. The exam will cover material from the entire semester and will consist of a combination of multiple choice, true/false, matching, and fill-in-the-blanks questions. The exam will be available online for a three-day period starting at 12:00 AM ET and ending at 11:59 PM ET on the dates outlined on the calendar. You must login and complete the exam during this period. The exam is time-limited so once you log on and begin the exam, you must complete it within the time limit.

Note: We do NOT recommend taking exams using the Canvas mobile app; use the web version of Canvas.

Discussion Policies

Try to think of discussion forums as an extension of your real-life classroom. Communicating through writing is different than communicating orally. These pointers cover common issues that may help to convey your ideas more clearly and prevent misunderstandings. Be aware that differences of opinion are going to occur in any forum. Multiple perspectives on a topic or problem are often valuable.


  1. For complex posts, try composing in Word, edit, and then copy/paste into Canvas.
  2. Try to keep related ideas organized under separate threads.
    1. To respond to the original post, click in the Reply field, type your response, and click Post Reply. Title your post so that individuals know what your post is about. The title of your post should be a brief phrase that summarizes your post.
    2. To respond to another individual, click the Reply button just below the individual's original response. Type in your response and then click Post Reply.
    3. To express a new idea, click in the Reply field again, similar to adding your original post. Remember to add a title.
    4. Don’t feel obligated to make a reply to a post if you feel it does not warrant one. Numerous posts that contain no essential new ideas may create more work for everyone.
  3. Very often people will read postings on a discussion forum but not make a reply if it is not required of them. Sometimes students become upset when they see that their post has been read but with no replies. Please do not feel offended.
  4. Also, do not feel obligated to respond to a post if you feel it does not require a response. Excessive posts that contain no essential new ideas may create more work for everyone.
  5. Please remember that not everyone comes from the same background, or shares the same values and ideals as you.
  6. Posts should be professional. Structure your post with paragraphs, proper grammar, accurate spelling and punctuation, and clear organization. Use bullet-points or numbers to make your post easy to read if you are listing out several ideas. Citations are required (see above). 

Act Professionally

  1. Please be appropriate, professional, and considerate of others.
    1. Inappropriate or disrespectful posts will be removed and the poster will receive a zero for that assignment.
  2. Your “tone” is a very important part of electronic communication.
  3. If you are unsure of your tone, try reading your discussion forum post out loud before you submit it.
    1. When you read it out loud, does it sound the way you would speak to another student in the classroom?
  4. The point of the discussion forum is to share ideas among your classmates, not to prove that you are right and they are wrong.
  5. Differences of opinion are going to occur in any forum, and your goal should be simply to convey your ideas as clearly as possible.
  6. Making a joke or being ironic in a discussion forum is a great way to break the ice, but you have to let people know your intentions. Even the most innocent of comments can easily be misunderstood.
  7. If you wish to convey a humorous tone in your discussion board post, try using emoticons, add comments like “Just kidding!” Do not use slang, specifically texting acronyms.

Alert Instructor

  1. If you find something on the discussion forum that strikes you as upsetting or unacceptable, please be sure to let your instructor know about it as soon as possible via email.
    1. Very often, the author of the material does not realize how their words “sound” to you.
    2. Dealing with such issues in a straight-forward manner offers a growth opportunity and should be facilitated by the instructor.
    3. Not dealing with them will undermine group process.
  2. The instructor has the right to remove any discussions that are not appropriate or offend another student. Any student who posts an inappropriate of offensive response will be blocked from participating in the discussion forum and will receive a zero for that assignment. Students are also subject classroom behavior and conduct policies in the student code of conduct.

University Policies

Academic Integrity

According to Penn State policy G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is “an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically.” Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, you must complete all course work entirely on your own, using only sources that have been permitted by your instructor, and you may not assist other students with papers, quizzes, exams, or other assessments. If your instructor allows you to use ideas, images, or word phrases created by another person (e.g., from Course Hero or Chegg) or by generative technology, such as ChatGPT, you must identify their source. You may not submit false or fabricated information, use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses, or share instructional content. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work.

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic sanctions, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes (see G-9: Academic Integrity).

Disability Access

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus at For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website at

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation described at If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office offers residential and distance-based Penn State students non-emergency mental health services in the form of case management, community resource referrals, supportive listening, care giver support, and much more.

Students may request assistance from CAPS regarding a variety of common mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and stress. CAPS services are designed to enhance students' ability to fully benefit from the University environment and academic experience. Call CAPS at 814-863-0395 (8 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday EST) or submit an inquiry online at to schedule an appointment with a mental health advocate, who can help you address mental health concerns that may interfere with your academic progress or social development. This appointment will include a one-on-one session that can be conducted via telephone, teleconference (Skype, FaceTime, etc.), or locally at Penn State University Park. For more information on services provided through CAPS, please visit the Penn State CAPS website at Students enrolled at the World Campus are also encouraged to visit its Mental Health Services page at

Reminder: These services are for non-emergencies only. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis situation, please call your local crisis center or 911.


Penn State is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University's educational mission, and will not be tolerated. For further information, please visit the Affirmative Action Office website at

Reporting a Bias Incident

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias web page at


The materials on the course website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

University Emergency Procedure

In the event of a University-wide emergency, the course may be subject to changes. Exigent circumstances may require alternative delivery methods, class materials, and interactions with the instructor and/or classmates. In addition, there may be revisions to grading policies and the Calendar, including assignments and their due dates.

In the event of a University-wide emergency, please refer to the Canvas website at for specific information related to the course. For more general information about the emergency situation, please refer to the Penn State website at or Penn State News website at

To register with PSUAlert, a service designed to alert the Penn State community when situations arise that affect the ability of a campus to function normally, please go to the PSU Alert website at Subscribers can receive alerts by text message to cell phones, and also can elect to have alerts sent to an email address.

Syllabus Subject to Change

The class will likely adhere to the information outlined in this Syllabus and the Calendar, but adjustments may be made based on what actually transpires during the semester. Remaining in the course after reading this Syllabus will signal that you accept the possibility of changes and responsibility for being aware of them.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due