Botany: Plants and People

Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

botany, ecology, environmental history

This is a one-quarter program designed to support students learning introductory plant biology in an interdisciplinary format. Students will learn about plant anatomy, morphology, evolution, 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 local native species of plants. They will be taught basic botanical illustration skills to support this work. This program also focuses 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, forestry, herbology, and horticulture. They will examine political-economic factors that shape our relations with plants. The learning community will use economic and historical lenses to inquire about why people have favored some plants and not others—or why those preferences have radically changed. (For example, why might a former cash crop be considered a weed?) In our readings, we will examine the significant roles botany has played in colonialism, imperialism, and globalization. Initiatives to foster more socially just and environmentally sustainable relations with plants will be investigated. Weekly workshops will help students improve their ability to write thesis-driven essays defended with evidence from assigned texts. Quizzes, exams, and weekly assignments will help students and faculty assess learning.

Program Details

Fields of Study

botany cultural studies environmental studies field studies history natural history writing

Preparatory For

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


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

May be offered again in