Botany: Plants and People

Winter 2021
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 25
12 Credits per quarter
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In this program, students learn introductory plant biology in an integrated way with an exploration of people's relationships with plants. You'll learn about plant anatomy, morphology, evolution, and systematics. The learning community explores how present form and function inform us about the evolution of major groups of plants such as mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants. Students gain hands-on experience studying plants under microscopes and in the field. 

This program is also designed to support students learning about the connections between plants and people, known as economic botany. Students will focus on people's relationships with plants for food, fiber, medicine, and aesthetics. We will engage with seminar texts, films, and lectures that examine agriculture, forestry, medical botany, and horticulture. Using a series of case studies, we will investigate the history of human relationships with specific plants, paying special attention to the socio-political and economic factors that shape those relations. Students seeking to learn how to write a major research paper will be well served in this program. You will choose a vascular plant to research with economic value, whether or not it is globally traded. Through a series of workshops, you’ll learn to search the scientific literature, manage bibliographic data and interpret and synthesize information, including primary sources. Through your research paper, you will synthesize scientific and cultural information about your plant. You’ll be encouraged to analyze how race, class, and gender influence human relations with the plant you choose to research. 

This program will be taught entirely online. Students  can expect our remote teaching to be a blend of about 22 hours/week of asynchronous (self-paced) and 8 hours/week of synchronous (scheduled) work. For example, there will be written assignments and discussions using Canvas, videos that students watch on their own time, live online lectures, virtual labs, and discussions on Zoom as well as virtual one-on-one consultation. To successfully participate in this program, students will need a quiet place to read and write, as well as access to a computer with a reliable internet connection and word processing software. 



Ability to write a thesis driven essay at an intermediate to advance level.

Winter 2021 Registration

Signature Required

Must demonstrate an ability to write a thesis driven essay at an intermediate level. Please email faculty the day after Academic Fair and provide two samples of your expository writing in the form of a Word file or PDF. Knowing your academic goals would also be helpful to advise whether this is a good course of study. Preference will be given to students who completed Global Studies: Plants and Empire successfully in fall 2020.

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (12): 20163

Academic details

Preparatory For

agriculture, botany, ecology, environmental history, forestry, plant taxonomy and restoration ecology

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$10 fee to cover mailing costs of provided materials

Upper Division Science Credit

Up to 8 units of upper-division science credit may be earned in economic botany library-based research and winter twig identification.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

May be offered again in
<p>2021/2022 (F&amp;W program) and W2023</p>
DateRevision 2020-12-07 $10 student fee added