It is perhaps impossible to experience a day without plants. From the air we breathe, the bed we sleep in, the soap we wash with and clothes we put on, to the foods we consume and the medicines we take, we are very much dependent upon plants and their products. Through a combination of lecture, discussion, and observation, we will explore how, why, and when plants became vital to people and their societies. Several economically important plant groups will be studied, including those that provide food and beverages, medicines and narcotics, spices, perfumes, fuels, and fiber. What are the characteristics of these groups enabling their exploitation, and what is the history of these associations? How and when were plants domesticated and what are the consequences of large-scale agriculture? What impacts do human population growth and habitat destruction have on the ways that people interact with plants now and in the future? Finally, we will explore the role of technology in efforts to both improve and synthesize plant products. Three classroom hours per week. Two local field trips.
Limited to 26 students. This course is for non-majors. Students majoring in Biology will be admitted only with permission from the instructor. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Levin.