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October 26-27, 2012

Are humans (or animals) hardwired from birth to act the way they do, to grow the way they do, to have the opinions they do, or to make the choices they do? Or is development determined gradually by environmental and behavioral factors? This interdisciplinary seminar explores this age-old question from a variety of angles.

Biologist David Pfennig explains how gene expression in response to environmental factors can turn “nature versus nurture” into “nature and nurture.” Psychologist Steve Reznick draws on studies of child personality development, autism and environment, and nutrition during pregnancy to suggest a more nuanced dynamic of human development. Sociologist Guang Guo discusses the results of a major study on the relationship between genetic phenotypes and marriage partner choices and friendship networks. Art historian Cary Levine considers how contemporary artists have used their work to dismantle the nature-nurture debate and the cultural myths that underlie it. In the panel discussion, our experts will reflect on whether the nature vs. nurture model is valuable or relevant in today’s world.

Topics and Speakers

The Flexible Organism: How Nature versus Nurture becomes Nature and Nurture
David Pfennig, Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Professor of Biology and Director, Royster Society of Fellows

Natural and Nurturant Influences on Infant Psychological Development
J. Steven Reznick, Professor of Psychology

Are Married Couples and Adolescent Friends Genetically Similar?
Guang Guo, George and Alice Welsh Distinguished Professor of Sociology

The (De)Civilizing Process: Nature and Nurture in Contemporary Art
Cary Levine, Assistant Professor of Art History

Nature, Nurture, or Neither—or Somewhere in Between?
A panel discussion with our speakers

Time and Cost
4:30 p.m. Friday, October 26, through 1:00 p.m. Saturday, October 27, 2012. The tuition is $125 ($110 by September 13). Tuition for teachers is $62.50 ($55 by September 13). 10 contact hours for 1 unit of renewal credit. The optional dinner on Friday evening is $20.00.

Note: There is a home football game scheduled for this weekend which might affect hotel availability. Please contact us for recommendations by calling 919-843-9386.

For information about lodging click here.

Co-Sponsored by the General Alumni Association.

For information about GAA discounts and other scholarships available to Humanities Program participants, click here.

Register for this seminar.