Botany 240: Plants and Humans



I love plants. If you do too, this class will help you expand your knowledge. If you don’t, then this class will improve your observational skills and enhance your understanding and appreciation of plants we experience and depend on every day.

Humans are almost entirely dependent on plants, in both direct and indirect ways--including the oxygen we breathe. Try to think of something that doesn’t trace to plants. As we explore the diversity of plants and how we depend upon them, we will learn what threatens botanical diversity here in Wisconsin and globally. The way we are treating our planet today diminishes the ability of many plants to serve us tomorrow. We will learn how conserving biodiversity serves humanity and how individuals and organizations can work to fulfill that need. Lessons will end with take home messages.

How we’ll learn: Two class periods per week will not be filled with 75-min lectures, but instead by novel, modular, and experiential learning. Modules will consist of lessons (each beginning with a plant that grows in Wisconsin, then expanding to its close relatives that we depend upon for food, clothing, housing, and more), “spots” about plants and their utility and novel species and their curious traits; about plants in the scientific news; and about plants that you see in various ads. Our greenhouse staff will supply live plants for interactive demonstrations, and I will share some of my favorite plant foods. Through video appearances of Botany faculty, we will learn who’s doing what to advance plant science and how they chose their careers in Botany. We’ll play some games, have photo contests and provide opportunities for you to contribute botanical experiences to the class. Learning will be enriched by writing in both essay exams and what you learned from demonstrations (paragraphs written during class). There is no suitable textbook, and I won’t be writing one anytime soon, so you’ll have to come to class to write to learn while learning to write….about Plants and Humans.