EvoS-2: Evolutionary Studies - applying evolutionary thinking outside the biology realm

EvoS-2: Evolutionary Studies - applying evolutionary thinking outside the biology realm

CALLS OPEN; Presential; if needed may change to remote
  • Lecturer(s) or Responsible(s): Filipa Vala (cE3c-FCUL)
  • Department Responsible: Departamento de Biologia Animal (FCUL)
  • Data: November 22nd, 2021 to November 26th, 2021
  • Deadline for Applications: October 22nd, 2021
  • Duration: 36 hours
  • Schedule: 10h00-13h00 and 14h30-17h30 Monday and Friday; 9h00-13h00 and 14h30-18h30 Tuesday to Thursday
  • Nº (min, max) Students: 5-20
  • Location: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande 1749-016 Lisboa


Evolutionary theory provides a framework for understanding all living systems. Nevertheless, throughout the 20th century, with a few exceptions, evolutionary biologists have “avoided” using evolution to address problems related to our own species. EvoS is a program created by David Sloan Wilson at the University of Binghamton, and later adopted at other faculties that have joined into the EvoS international consortium. EvoS aims at turning evolutionary theory into a common language to areas that pertain to the natural world, including human affairs. This advanced course is part of the EvoS programme at the University of Lisbon.

This course can have a recognition of 6 ECTs for FCUL PhD students enrolling in it as part of their first doctoral year. These students need to deliver two reports after the course. For students only requiring 5 ECTs recognized in their specific PhD programmes the last 3.5 hours of the course are not mandatory, they need to deliver only the main report and the certificate will be on 'Topics in EvoS-2’. Such report(s) are also advised for other students requesting creditation of the course in their institutions.

Minimum formation: ‘Licenciatura’ (bachelor) in Biology or related areas


Directed to: PhD or MSc students in Biology, Evolution, Ecology or related areas, postdocs and professionals working in related topics

General Plan

Note: This course is intended to be presential, but if needed (e.g. due to COVID-19 security measures by the time of the course) it may be adapted to be given remotely

  • Quick review of basic concepts in Evolutionary Biology: patterns and processes in evolution, micro and macro-evolutionary processes, speciation.
  • Evolutionary biology as a means to solve problems in our societies – two classical examples: Darwinian medicine, conservation biology.
  • The history of human societies viewed as an environmental adaptation process: biological evolution, cultural evolution, and gene-culture co-evolution.
  • Evolutionary biology applied to humans in an historical perspective: eugenics, sociobiology’s “bad name”, evolutionary psychology.
  • A recap of the Nature versus Nurture debate viewed in its socio-political context: the ideological debate of the 70’s-80’s (Darwin versus Marx)
  • The Nature versus Nurture debate revisited: different theories of the mind; language as an example that “solves” the debate.
  • The evolution of “Selfishness” and “Altruism”: the unit of selection, Multilevel Selection Theory
  • “Darwinian behavior” in humans – where’s Darwin? the classic example: incest avoidance; a counter example, nepotism
  • “Darwinian behavior” in humans – the importance of evolving in groups, new examples: religion, examples from Behavioral Economics (Homo sapiens versus Homo economicus).
  • Development of short individual dissertations on topics of student choice
  • Presentations of case studies by the students (last 6 hours)


Students fees.




Free for 1st year PhD students in  Doctoral programmes  at FCUL (e.g. Biologia), Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution (BIODIV UL; UP), Biology and Ecology of Global Changes (BEAG UL, UA) and Sustainability Science (UL, several institutions), when the course counts credits for their formation, in which case the delivery of a final report done after the course is mandatory; the course is also free for more advanced PhD students of the BIODIV programme (ULisboa or UPorto); 50 € for more advanced PhD students of cE3c of other programmes; 80 € for PhD students of the PEERS network (CFE); 125 € for FCUL Master students and unemployed; 180 € for BTI, BI and other PhD students; 250 € for Professional and postdocs.

When the maximum number of students is reached, 10 vacancies will be available for non-paying 1st year PhD students mentioned above, being, by order of preference students from: 1) cE3c; 2) BIODIV (not from cE3c); 3) FCUL (not from cE3c); 4) Sustainability Science (not from cE3c or FCUL); 5) BEAG (not from cE3c or FCUL).

Contacts for Inscription

Contacts for enrolment

Candidates should send a short CV and a motivation letter to Filipa Vala at the following email address: fdvala@fc.ul.pt ) explaining why they are interested in the course. The cv and letter should be named as 1st-lastNAME-CV.pdf and 1st-lastNAME-ML.pdf (that is personalize the name of each file with your first and last name).

In the email please add the following information:

Full Name:



Professional activity: Professional/Postdoc, BTI, BI (or other non-post-doc research grant), PhD student (with/ without scholarship), Lic. (Bachelor)/Master student

PhD student of the 1st year of a Doctoral programme at FCUL, BIODIV (FCUL/FCUP), or BEAG (FCUL or UA)?

If yes to the above question, PhD student doing the Course to count credits for 1st year?:

PhD student of cE3c or CEF (Centro de Ecologia Funcional)?:

Name of the PhD programme: