Author Archives: mcelreath

EPHE Core Winter 2010

EPHE Core Schedule of Lectures and Assignments

ECL 298-008 (40087)

Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Room: Storer 2342


Jan 5 – The unification of the social sciences (Richerson) - Read: Gintis Unity BBS

Economic Approaches to Human Behavior (Sanchirico/Springborn/Lin)

Jan 7 – Theory of consumer/firm, overview of economics and fields (Sanchirico)

Jan 12 – Public Goods and Externalities (Sanchirico/Lin)

Jan 14 – Dynamic Resource Models (Lin)

Jan 19 – Decision-making under uncertainty (Springborn)

Cultural Evolution (Richerson/McElreath)

Jan 21 – The nature of culture (Richerson)

Jan 26 – Modeling cultural evolution (Richerson/McElreath)

Jan 28 – Analyzing cultural evolution (Richerson/McElreath)

People and Conservation (Darwent/Borgerhoff Mulder)

Feb 2 – Many roads to conservation (Borgerhoff Mulder)

Feb 4 – (Darwent)

Feb 9 – TBD

Feb 11 – TBD

Cultural Ecology/Political Ecology (Orlove/Winterhalder)

Feb 16

Feb 18

Feb 23

Feb 25

Environmental Policy and Politics (Lubell)

Mar 2 – Policy Tools

Mar 4 – Overview of US Environmental Laws

Mar 9 – Theories of the Policy Process

Mar 11 – Frontiers in Policy Research

Culture for Skeptics: Readings for Dec 1

This week we'll look at the popularity of "culture" in behavioral ecology.

First, a review article (and letters responding to it):


Étienne Danchin et al. 2004. Public Information: From Nosy Neighbors to Cultural Evolution. Science 305:487.
Download PDF of review
Download PDF of letters and response

Second, a specific case study of putative socially-transmitted tool use in dolphins.


Krützen et al. 2005. Cultural transmission of tool use in bottlenose dolphins. PNAS 102:8939.
Download PDF 

Culture for Skeptics: Reading for Nov 24


Just one reading for this week. It's long enough itself, and it has some commentary you should read, too.

Scott Atran, Douglas Medin, Norbert Ross, Elizabeth Lynch, Valentina Vapnarsky, Edilberto Ucan Ek’, John Coley, Christopher Timura, and Michael Baran. 2002. Folkecology, Cultural Epidemiology, and the Spirit of the Commons (with Commentary). Current Anthropology 43:421-450.
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Culture for Skeptics: Readings for Nov 17

This week we'll consider a special empirical domain of cultural variation: baby names. Given names change in frequency across generations, for many reasons, all poorly understood. The two papers below address different aspects of the dynamics of names (and their consequences).

Hahn and Bentley. 2003. Drift as a mechanism for cultural change: an example from baby names.
Download PDF

Download PDF

Culture for Skeptics: Readings for Nov 10

Ethnicity is another of those "contested" concepts that causes fights and posturing. This week, we'll read the most-cited (and still often-cited) essay in social anthropology on the topic. (Apologies for the marked-up scan.)

Fredrik Barth. 1969. Introduction. In Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, F. Barth ed.
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Second, to get a broader idea of approaches to ethnic and other kinds of social groupings, here's a recent Science paper that describes a theoretically-motivated set of experiments on how norms and ethnic-like markers can co-evolve. One of the motivating models is my own, so I have some stake in this stuff, but I am by no means convinced that this is an important process in real societies.

Charles Efferson, Rafael Lalive, and Ernst Fehr. 2008. The coevolution of cultural groups and ingroup favoritism. Science 321:1844.
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