Songbird Neuroethology Laboratory

Department of Psychology, BioCognition Unit, Centre for Neuroscience, University of Alberta


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Psychology 403: Ancestral Health

Fall 2013


13:00 - 15:50
ESB 2 36

Instructor: Christopher Sturdy (e-mail Dr. Sturdy)
Office: P441 Biological Sciences Building
Office Hours: By appointment only

Course Description, Objectives and Expected Learning Outcomes: This course is centred on the theme of Ancestral Health, conceived broadly to include topics such as fitness, nutrition, and individual wellness. While the course does not strictly focus on a “Paleolithic” or so-called “Caveman diet”, there are many aspects of these concepts that will be covered throughout the course. This course will expose participants to concepts that may, at first anyway, seem counter intuitive. In many cases these ideas will seem outright incorrect. At the end, the ultimate objective is to train us (I say 'us' because we all need to continually be a skeptic) to critically evaluate what constitutes 'healthy' lifestyle choices at the level of the individual, and how using an ancestral lens to view and make decisions about health leads to increased health and decreased incidence of many problems plaguing modern society today. Students are expected to gain a deeper understanding of health from an ancestral perspective, to learn how to critically evaluate original research (i.e., from journal articles) as well as popular press articles and blog posts, and to express ideas about the subject matter in oral presentations (both group and individual), and in written form on blog posts and a term paper.

Required Text and Recommended Additional Learning Resources: We will be using Mark Sisson's book The Primal Blueprint as the starting point for our explorations into Ancestral Health. But it is certainly not the only game in town. There exists a vast and rich assortment of information available in websites and blogs, from Sisson's own site ( to Robb Wolf's ( that deal with Primal/Paleolithic approaches to fitness, nutrition and health. My own blog ( has a listing of blogs I routinely read, listed in order of when the particular was updated, that can serve as a starting point (there are about 30 currently listed).

Student Responsibilities:

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: ‘The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty.  Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect.  Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence.  Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.’

All forms of dishonesty are unacceptable at the University.  Any offense will be reported to the Senior Associate Dean of Science who will determine the disciplinary action to be taken. Cheating, plagiarism and misrepresentation of facts are serious offenses.  Anyone who engages in these practices will receive at minimum a grade of zero for the exam or paper in question and no opportunity will be given to replace the grade or redistribute the weights.  As well, in the Faculty of Science the sanction for cheating on any examination will include a disciplinary failing grade (no exceptions) and senior students should expect a period of suspension or expulsion from the University of Alberta

CELL PHONES:  Cell phones are to be turned off during lectures, labs and seminars.  Cell phones are not to be brought to exams.

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES:  Students who require accommodation in this course due to a disability are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support & Disability Services (2-800 Students’ Union Building). 

ACADEMIC SUPPORT CENTRE:  Students who require additional help in developing strategies for better time management, study skills or examination skills should contact the Academic Support Centre (2-703 Students’ Union Building). 

Policy about course outlines can be found in §23.4(2) of the University Calendar.

Disclaimer: Any typographical errors in this Course Outline are subject to change and will be announced in class.  The date of the final examination is set by the Registrar and takes precedence over the final examination date reported in this syllabus. 

Note: Recording is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.


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Last updated - 30-08-2013