Fall 2019 - HSCI 471 D100

Special Topics in Health Sciences I (3)

Ecol Approach Women's Repro Hlth

Class Number: 2635

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    BLU 9011, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Pablo Nepomnaschy
    1 778 782-8493
  • Prerequisites:

    Will vary according to topic.



Selected topics in areas not currently offered within the undergraduate course offerings.


PREREQUISITES:   Undergraduate students should have taken HSCI 100 and HSCI 216 or similar courses. These requisites do not apply to graduate students.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:   Women’s reproduction differs notably in key traits from other mammalian females including a prolonged period of reproductive maturation, lack of estrous, a radically invasive placenta and long period of maternal investment combined with high levels of allomaternal care (care for offspring provided by individuals others than the mother).  Students participating in this course will discuss the possible relationship between these and other reproductive features with another rare reproductive trait: continuous rather than seasonal ovulation. To that aim we will investigate possible evolutionary links between stress and women’s reproductive function.  

COURSE OBJECTIVES   Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:  
•     Understand the ecologic and evolutionary principles that underlie women’s reproduction
•     Discuss potential evolutionary origins of some key human reproductive traits
•     Evaluate the impact that each trait’s evolutionary history and current ecology may have in the reproductive life of modern women
•     Analyze basic interactions between the social and physical environment faced by women and reproductive outcomes
•     Understand how and ecological challenges (which includes social and physical) can affect reproductive patterns and impact the health and well-being of women and children.
Core Competencies for the BA and BSc Programs addressed in this course include:  
Core Concepts in Population and Public Health (primary)
Strategies for Preventing Disease and Promoting Health (reinforcing)                                                     
Measuring Health and Disease (reinforcing)                                                                                             
Systems and critical thinking (reinforcing)                                                                                     

EXPECTED LEARNING OUTCOMES:   Upon completion of the course students are expected to have honed their ability to comprehend scientific articles, improved their ability to analyze scientific evidence critically and develop their own arguments.  Students will learn to compile annotated bibliographies, advance their academic writing abilities and work in collaboration with their peers. In terms of specific scientific knowledge students taking this course will learn about the role of phylogeny, ontogeny and ecology (both social and physical) has on women’s reproductive biology as well as their health and that of their children.  

ORGANIZATION OF THE COURSE:   This course includes five (5) main activities: 1. readings, 2. summaries, 3. presentations, 4. participation in discussion sessions and 5. a term paper. Required reading materials corresponding to each discussion session are indicated in this syllabus (below). Students MUST:
1.    Read all assigned materials (2 to 5 required articles per session, mode 4).
2.    Produce a half page summary of each and all of the required articles for each session, and submit it in the Assignments section of CANVAS before that session.
3.    Students will choose one of the required articles for this course and will prepare a 15 minutes presentation with visual aids (e.g.: PowerPoint format) to explain the article to the class and then help lead a 10’ discussion about it. The goal of a discussion leader is to stimulate participation from the other students.
4.    Students are expected to participate in all discussion sessions.
5.    Term Paper: Following the schedule below, each student will choose at least 5 (and no more than 8) of the scientific articles that conform the reading list for this course (required or optional) to develop a Term Paper according to the Guidelines posted in CANVAS.

Term Papers’ (TP) schedule:
1.                              Sept 20 Declare TP topic in CANVAS
2.                              Oct 5 Submit TP Précis in CANVAS
3.                              Oct 20 Submit TP’s your draft in CANVAS.
4.                              Nov 14th Submit the Final Version of your Term Paper in CANVAS  

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are encouraged to contact your Tutor Marker (TM) and work closely with them in the development of your paper. 


  • Participation 25%
  • One Page Summaries of Each of the Readings 25%
  • Presentations 25%
  • Final Term Paper 25%


This course will be managed over our CANVAS course site. Please log on as soon as possible to familiarize yourself with the content of the site and update your profile. If you have any questions, please consult the site first. You will find a number of resources, including this syllabus to help you.  

You are expected to get and deliver all materials through CANVAS. Please, be alert to announcements.

Students are expected to adhere to the codes of academic honesty enforced by Simon Fraser University.  Any student found to have engaged in plagiarism 1) will receive a zero grade on the relevant assignment; 2) may fail the course at the discretion of the instructor and the Associate Dean; 3) will be reported to the university.  

PENALTIES: Ten percent (10%) of the marks of each assignment will be deducted per day since the deadline has expired. Please see the instructions for a list of examples of valid an invalid excuses for turning assignments past their deadline.   Note that there are two sections of HSCI 471.  This course is section D200.  



There is no textbook for this course as it is based entirely on journal articles and book chapters. All required materials will be made available directly (digitally) or through a link posted in CANVAS.  

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html