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Sep 10, 2013 1:24 AM by Rebecca Taylor

UA course examines fatherhood using gorillas

TUCSON - A new course being offered at the University of Arizona is so popular, there's a waiting list to get in.

The focus, and title of the course is Men, Fatherhood and Families.

This class isn't your typical family studies, it examines the evolutionary perspective on fatherhood using gorillas.

With every seat filled, discussion and debate begins.

Dr. Dieter Steklis and his wife co-teach the class.

They bring 20 years of experience studying mountain gorillas.

"The big silverback males, picking up young infants, cuddling them, tossing them around playing with them essentially," says Dr. Steklis, "We thought wow this is really interesting."

From the fields of Rwanda to the classroom. Studying the evolutionary basis of fatherhood is a first of its kind approach.

"Especially the incorporation of non-human primates," says Dr. Steklis, "Usually they're squarely focused on humans."

Undergraduate Caitlin Hawley says, "I was raised by a single mother by choice, I'm a sperm donor baby. And I didn't have the father figure that a lot of children grew up with."

Students of all backgrounds, all majors are enrolling in this general education class.

"I guess just trying to understand my own father, because we had this gap between us," says undergraduate Monique Timmons, "And taking this class actually closed the gap because I was able to understand him more."

"Everyone has a father almost, or if you don't you can relate to it because you didn't. But everyone can relate to it, I think it's an essential class to learn about yourself, parenting, and families," says Hawley.

Because of its growing popularity, starting next Summer the course will be offered on-line.

Students anywhere in the country, even non-students can enroll through the UA.

Digging Deeper: In 1960, eleven percent of children lived in homes with no dad there.

According to the U.S. Census that rate has now tripled.

Two in three African American children are growing up without their father at home..

One in three Hispanic children and one in four White children now live without dad.

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