Botany: Plants and People

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Fall 2018 quarter

Taught by

botany, ecology, environmental history

This is a 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 will supplement the laboratory work. The learning community will explore how present form and function inform 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 learn how to maintain an illustrated nature journal to develop basic identification skills of common Pacific Northwest species. 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, medicinal botany, 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. We will investigate initiatives to foster more socially just and environmentally sustainable relations with plants. 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 history natural history writing

Preparatory For

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


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

May be offered again in