Power of Plants:  Plants in Agriculture and Medicine

Biol-22500  Fall 2012

Instructor: Susan Swensen, Biology Department
Email:  sswensen@ithaca.edu
Office Hours: Mon 9-11 am; Tues 3-4 or by appt.
Office:  254 CNS
Campus Phone: 274-3511

Textbook: There is no required textbook for this class, but you will be required to buy one book on your own that will be read as part of the class. Other reading material will be made available to you on Sakai.

Plants of the Gods by R. E. Schultes, A. Hoffman & C. Rätsch ISBN 978-0-89281-797-9 (Pbk)

The Course: The goal of this course is to provide you with an appreciation for the important roles that plantsplay in our lives and the lives of people of other cultures and how to study cultural connections with plants. Class time will include lectures, discussions, student presentations, and videos. My goal is to foster “community learning” where we are free to ask questions, state opinions, and have discussion without feeling inhibited by the course schedule. Two exams will be given to assess learning during the semester. The fourth hour of the course will consist of field trips and an independent research project.

Attendance & Participation Policy: Consistent class attendance is expected. If you miss a class for any reason, it is your responsibility to obtain course material or to arrange alternate times to hand in assignments or take quizzes. Consistent attendance and participation are important for receiving grades above a C. Preparedness for class and participation in class are worth 7.5% or your grade.

Grading: Your final grade will be based on the following components. Grades will be assigned according to the following scale A = 93-100, A- = 90-92, B+ = 87-89, B = 83-86, B- = 80-82, C+ = 77-79, C = 73-76, C= 70-72, D+ = 67-69, D = 63-66, D- = 60-62, F < 60. There is no extra credit.


Exams (2 @ 100 pts ea.) 200
Plant Quiz
Participation / Attendance 50
Independent  Projects (100 pts total)

Literature Review 10

Proposal 10

Reflective Journal 30

Mid-term Presentation 10

Final Presentation 10

Final Paper Draft 15

Final Paper 15

Total Points 400

Learning Goals: The following are list of things I hope you will learn as part of this class:

1) Recognize some common fall-flowering plants and their plant families

2) Understand “ethnography”

3) Develop appropriate interviewing skills

4) Distinguish between anecdotal and evidence-based information

5) Use library databases to identify relevant literature

6) Read, understand, and discuss scientific articles

7) Understand one’s own cultural bias in the interpretation of data

8) Basic knowledge of plant secondary biochemistry

9) Familiarity with important medicinal discoveries from plants

10) Basic knowledge of traditional and sustainable farming practices

11) Familiarity with plant breeding methods and genetic engineering of plants

12) Understand the origin of important crop plants

13) Effective communication of scientific (and other) ideas in written and verbal forms

Assessment of Learning Goals:

Reflective Journals: Goals 2-4, 7

Plant Quiz: Goal 1

Interview workshop activity: Goal 3

Literature Review: Goal 5

Project Paper: Goal 6, 13

Presentation: Goal 13

Quests: Goals 2, 4, 8-12

Class Participation: Goal 4, 6, 7, 13

Student-led discussion: Goal 6, 13

Sakai (S): Class schedule, readings and other important resources will be posted on Sakai. Be sure to log on frequently to be aware of what is available to you there.

Academic Honesty: All work in this course must be your own, unless permission is granted to work in groups. Confirmed instances of academic dishonesty will result in a zero for that assignment and possible referral to the campus judicial board. Be familiar with college policy on plagiarism (www.ithaca.edu/library/research/plagiarism.htm).

Accommodations: In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. If you have a disability that needs special accommodation, please contact the Office of Academic Support Services for Students with Disabilities (http://www.ithaca.edu/acssd/) in 322A Smiddy Hall or e-mail: acssd@ithaca.edu.

Mental Health & Academic Success: Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance.

Ithaca College provides a Counseling Center to support the academic success of students. The Counseling Center provides cost-free services to help you manage personal challenges that threaten your well-being. In the event I suspect you need additional support, I may express my concerns, and remind you of resources (e.g., Counseling Center, Health Center, chaplains, etc.) that might be helpful to you. It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available.

Online Course Evaluation: Student feedback on teaching is very helpful. All students must submit an evaluation of this course before a grade is given at the end of the semester. The period for completing this evaluation is early in December. Instructions for accessing the online evaluation form will be provided before this time. If you forget, you will get a reminder from the department assistant. If you do not leave any feedback before grades are due, a grade of incomplete will be given.

General Approach to Teaching & Class: My goal is for us to become a community of learners: to recognize that each one of us has something important and insightful to contribute to the class. I want this course to involve much interaction and conversation. Never be afraid to ask a question, or to ask me to deviate from my course plan! Questions and comments are often better starting points for learning than lecturing. Although I do plan to lecture on some days, other days will require you prepare ahead for class (do the reading!), be willing to contribute to conversation, be open-minded, and be willing to challenge ideas or mindsets in a friendly way.

Resource List (Useful library books, Journal titles)

Other Links:
    USDA-ARS Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
    The Maize Page
    UDSA Poisonous Plant Database
    The Cucurbit Network
    Cornell University’s Poisonous Plants Webpage
    Centre for Economic Botany
    American Indian Ethnobotanical Database
    People and Plants Website
    Southwestern School of Botanical Medicine
    Ask the Plant Doctor
    Tropical Plant Database
    Missouri Botanical Garden

Go to Susan Swensen's home page.
Go to the Biology home page.
Go to the Ithaca College home page.

Page maintained by Susan Swensen and Nancy Pierce
Last updated  9/2012