OEB 59: Plants and Human Affairs





Course ID: 143445

Professor:  Donald H. Pfister

Course Notes:  Monday, Wednesday, 10–11:30 AM and a weekly laboratory on Thursday afternoons.

Course Description:

Before there was scientific study of plants, before plants were formally named, and long before the importance of plants in ecosystems was understood, humans used plants – some to eat or to avoid, some to be used for making study and water proof dwellings, others for clothing and fire, some healed and others set-off technicolor displays of mental fireworks. The many properties of plants played a central role in human activities and in the development of cities, societies and industry. Many of the plants from ancient times figure in our lives today. In this course we will study the structure of plants and their biochemical properties in the context of how we use particular plant material and how they figured in human activities in the past. By referring to traditional uses we will reflect on agriculture, forestry and discovery and exploration. We will also learn about how humans have changed the plants they use and rely upon. We will touch upon how ecosystems function and the central role of plants as the makers of the high-energy molecules that allow all life to exist.

Prerequisite: OEB 10 or permission of the instructor.