Botany: Plants and People


Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 quarters

Taught by

botany, ecology, environmental history
botany, phytochemistry, systematics

The fall portion of this program serves both full-time and half-time students who are looking for an opportunity to expand their understanding of plants and challenge themselves.  Students will learn about plant anatomy, morphology and systematics. Lectures based on textbook readings supplement the laboratory work. The learning community will explore how present form and function informs us about the evolution of major groups of plants such as mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants. Students will get hands-on experience studying plants under microscopes and in the field. Students will also learn how to maintain a detailed and illustrated nature journal to develop basic identification skills of common species of plants. Field observational data sharing will occur through online citizen science venues. Quizzes, exams, and weekly assignments will help students and faculty assess learning. In fall there is no upper-division science credit. The part-time option only exists in fall.

FULL-TIME ONLY: For students enrolled full-time in the program, this is a two-quarter program, which allows students to learn introductory and advanced botanical material in an interdisciplinary format. In winter, full-time students will study algae, seaweed herbarium specimen preparation, twig identification, and help build a database of phenological information on a variety of local natural events including bud burst. During both fall and winter, they will also focus on people's relationships with plants for food, fiber, medicine and aesthetics. Students will study economic botany through seminar texts, films and lectures that examine agriculture, basketmaking, forestry, herbology and horticulture. They will examine political economic factors that shape our relations with plants. Through economic and historical lenses, the learning community will inquire about why people have favored some 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. Students will also investigate the gender politics of botany. For example, botany was used to inculcate "appropriate" middle- and upper-class values among American and European women in the 18th and 19th century. Initiatives to foster more socially just and environmentally sustainable relations with plants will be investigated. In fall, weekly workshops will help the full-time students improve their ability to write thesis-driven essays defended with evidence from the assigned texts in cultural studies. In winter, full-time students will write a major research paper on a plant of their choosing applying what they've learned about plant biology and economic botany to their own case study. Through a series of workshops, they will learn to search the scientific literature, manage bibliographic data and interpret and synthesize information, including primary sources. Through their research paper, students will synthesize scientific and cultural information about their plant. 

Note : The part-time option is fall only.  Students electing to register for this option are encouraged to also register for Field Mycology (8-cr), also fall only.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

field plant taxonomy, field ecology, plant science, plant ecology, economic botany, agriculture, forestry and environmental education.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$15 winter fee for supplies.

Upper Division Science Credit

A maximum of 16 upper division science credits in economic botany, deciduous plant science, phycology, and independent research in botany may be awarded in winter based upon writing and seminar participation.

May be offered again in



Date Revision
December 1st, 2014 $15 winter fee added.
August 27th, 2014 New 8-credit option added.

Registration Information

Credits: 8, 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 10039
So - Sr (8 credits): 10408

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students with a knowledge of introductory botany will be admitted on a space available basis. Contact the instructor by email or at the winter academic fair.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 20026

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