Plants and People
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This program is designed to support learning about people's relationships with plants for food, fiber, medicine, and aesthetics. We will explore the subject often known as economic botany through 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. Considering historical context, the learning community will inquire about why people have favored particular plants and not others or radically changed their preferences, such as considering a former cash crop to be a weed. In our readings, we will examine the significant roles botany has played in colonialism, imperialism, and globalization. We will consider the influence of increasingly globalized production since the scientific and industrial revolutions and the rise of capitalism. Attention will be paid to the role of botanists in shaping relations with plants. We will also investigate contemporary efforts to establish sustainable and ethical production and consumption.
You will write a major research paper on a plant of your choosing; applying the plant biology, economic botany, and the cultural studies material of the program. Through a series of workshops, you will learn to search 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 their plant, including how race, class, and gender influence human relations with the plant you choose to research. Some previous experience with botanical illustration or drawing will be valuable but is not required. Students will maintain a detailed and illustrated nature journal to identify deciduous trees and shrubs during the dormant season using a technical dichotomous key.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
botany, ecology, environmental history, forestry, medicinal botany, and natural history
Credits per quarter
Students can meet the prerequisite with Botany: Plants and People or Botany offered at Evergreen in fall 2019. Alternatively, transfer students and others can meet it with one quarter of introductory plant biology coursework that included a weekly lab.
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$30 for visit to Portland Chinese Garden and tea tasting
Upper division science credit:
Up to 16 units of upper-division science credit may be earned in economic botany, independent research in botany, and winter twig identification.
Class Size: 25
Scheduled for: Day
Located in: Olympia