Book Reviews

#1766. The Serengeti Rules, The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters. (2016). Sean B. Carroll. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 254 pp. $16.95. ISBN: 978-0-691-17568-3

Sarah J. Hatley, College of Education, Texas Tech University, sarah.hatley@ttu.edu

Sean Carroll’s “The Serengeti Rules, The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters” is a bold piece of literary work. Immediately, Carroll pulls his readers into the fascinating science behind all things, from the smallest cell to the largest ecosystem.  He introduces his readers to some of the pioneers who first discovered some of the basic things that makes life work, and he shares his reasoning on why it matters. 

In “The Serengeti Rules…” Carroll discusses the work of Walter B. Cannon, a physiologist who coined the term “flight or fight”, which is the body’s strongest response triggered by emotional stimuli, such as fear. Cannon had discovered physiological mechanisms that self-regulated the body and he asked, “If the body can largely care for itself what is the function of the physician?” (page 28). As an academic advisor, one might wonder what roles Cannon’s statement plays in higher education but, most especially, in academic advising. Consider all the avenues available when seeking the expansion to knowledge. For example, today’s college student has a multitude of educational resources at their fingertips 24/7. College students are connected to technology in relational ways that academic advisors are just beginning to understand. Using advanced tools students today are self-regulating their knowledge, how they seek knowledge, and understanding without experiencing the knowledge. So, what is the function of an academic advisor to the college student?  Understanding Carroll’s concepts places the role of an academic advisor in a better light if one can connect the dots. Reading “The Serengeti Rules” without a scientific background may be daunting but Carroll quickly grips the reader with his easy writing style. For truer comprehension, the reader may need to keep a dictionary close for particularly confusing terminologies. Some of Carroll’s concepts and theories may be confusing but stay the course and make the leap.

It is clear that Carroll is passionate about his work and it shows in “The Serengeti Rules…”. It may be less clear the potential impacts this work could make to higher education and the advising world however, the time spent pondering the Carroll’s concepts contain therein is well worth the effort.      

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