Introduction to Ethnobotany

BIOL 319/3.0

Ethnobotany is the study of culture arising from the relationship between indigenous peoples and local flora. This course will introduce the discipline of ethnobotany and use case studies to examine the ways in which challenges such as climate change, deforestation, cultural assimilation and pressure to discover new medicines are changing global communities.

Description

BIOL 319, Introduction to Ethnobotany, explores the fundamental relationships that exist between plants and indigenous/traditional cultures from around the world. The course presents the history of indigenous/traditional plant use in relation to cultural development, as well as how modern scientific approaches to ethnobotanical investigation are revealing new and exciting applications for plant materials. Where applicable, case studies will be presented that elucidate the various categories of plant use, the importance of traditional knowledge to Western culture, and the role of plant conservation and cultural sustainability. Students will apply components of the botanical sciences (taxonomy, ecology, biochemistry, physiology, etc.) to ethnobotanical investigations and understanding.

Evaluation

2 Assignments30%
Online Midterm25%
Participation15%
Proctored Final Exam30%

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.

Topics

Learning Outcomes

After completing BIOL 319, students should have the knowledge and skills to do the following:

  • Describe how the science of ethnobotany is applied in the understanding of relationships between plants and indigenous/traditional cultures
  • Describe how botany and biochemistry are used in identifying and understanding the ethnobotanical value of a given plant species
  • Develop the skills and methods used to collect, classify and preserve plant materials
  • List the main categories of plant use by indigenous/traditional peoples and identify how plant value depends on cultural context, both material and spiritual
  • Present examples illustrating how traditional plant knowledge derived from ethnobotanical investigations have been applied in our modern world and the positive and negative implications of this

This 12-week course consists of a series of lectures, assignments and web forum discussions based on assigned readings. Lesson 1 (week 1) offers a general introduction and a brief history of ethnobotany. The next two sets of lessons (weeks 2 and 3) focus on the botanical sciences, including plant structure and function, specimen collection, preservation and taxonomy. The first assignment will strengthen the students understanding of these basic principles by identifying the ethnobotanical value of selected wild food plants to indigenous/traditional cultures that once inhabited their local region. In Lesson 4 (week 4), we will briefly discuss the relationships that exist between the availability of local plant resources and the evolution of a culture’s primary diet, be it hunting and gathering or farming. Over the course of the next several lessons (weeks 5 to 11), we will turn our attention to the main categories of plant use that exist among the various indigenous/traditional cultures around the world. For their second assignment, students are presented with an option of submitting an online poster detailing an ethnobotanically important plant species, or submitting an online herbarium collection of ethnobotanically relevant plants from their local region. In the last 2 lessons (weeks 11 and 12), we will focus on the ethnobotany of First Nations peoples of the Great Lakes region, looking at each of the main categories of plant use including the construction of the birch bark canoe.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 9-10 hours a week in study / practice and online activity for BIOL 319.

Course Resources

About SOLUS

SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About MOODLE

Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.

Dates/Deadlines

The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s are 1 April (for May summer term), 1 June (for July summer term), 1 August (for fall term), and 1 December (for winter term). All documents must be received by the 15th of the month following the deadline. You can register for a course up to one week after the start of the course. See also Dates and Deadlines.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point
A+4.30
A4.00
A-3.70
B+3.30
B3.00
B-2.70
C+2.30
C2.00
C-1.70
D+1.30
D1.00
D-0.70
F0.00

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.