New book: “Human Social Evolution, The Foundational Works of Richard D. Alexander”


Jan 23, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Cover of “Human Social Evolution, The Foundational Works of Richard D. Alexander” by Oxford University Press

Cover of “Human Social Evolution, The Foundational Works of Richard D. Alexander” by Oxford University Press

“Human Social Evolution, The Foundational Works of Richard D. Alexander” was published in 2013 by 0xford University Press. Edited by former students Drs. Kyle Summers and Bernard Crespi, the book covers major topics of interest in human social evolution and brings together Alexander’s classic works.

According to Oxford University Press, Richard D. Alexander is an accomplished entomologist who turned his attention to solving some of the most perplexing problems associated with the evolution of human social systems. Using impeccable Darwinian logic and elaborating, extending and adding to the classic theoretical contributions of pioneers of behavioral and evolutionary ecology like George Williams, William Hamilton and Robert Trivers, Alexander developed the most detailed and comprehensive vision of human social evolution of his era. His ideas and hypotheses have inspired countless biologists, anthropologists, psychologists and other social scientists to explore the evolution of human social behavior in ever greater detail, and many of his seminal ideas have stood the test of time and come to be pillars of our understanding of human social evolution. This volume presents classic papers or chapters by Alexander, each focused on an important theme from his work. Introductions by Alexander's former students and colleagues highlight the importance of his work to the field, describe more recent work on the topic, and discuss current issues of contention and interest.

Summers (M.S. and Ph.D. Biology 1990) is a professor of biology at East Carolina University. Crespi (Ph.D. Biological Sciences 1987) is professor of evolutionary biology at Simon Fraser University.

"Dr. Alexander was a constant inspiration to students in ecology and evolution at U-M,” said Summers. “He was always excited to talk about evolutionary biology, be it with undergraduates, graduates, postdocs or faculty. His courses and seminar groups were renowned for their fascinating topics and inspiring discussions. Dr. Alexander was as comfortable discussing human evolution as he was that of any other organism, and his general approach attracted talented people from all disciplines to come to U-M and study human evolution under his tutelage. He trained a cadre of excellent scientists, many of whom have gone on to establish major research programs in evolution and human behavior. He was instrumental in the development of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and served as president of that organization.  In my opinion, he did more to advance the study of human behavior from an evolutionary perspective than anyone, living or dead."