Plant productivity underlies most of life on Earth. In this three-part course, we will explore the application of plants toward environmental and sustainable solutions to society’s urgent problems. The central objectives of this course are for students to get practice in environmental and sustainability problem definition and in designing sustainable solutions that are based in plant science. In order to address the problems using plants, students will need to understand the structure and function of plants, the basis for growth, and the diversity of plants and plant-like organisms. In this course students should demonstrate an understanding of the form and function of plants and an ability to apply that understanding to developing sustainable botanical solutions to environmental and social problems.

The array of problems we will consider will be bounded only by our interests, with the exception of two broad areas: food and nutrition, and medicine and health, which includes also natural psychotropic substances. The solutions we will discover, discuss and develop shall be bound by the single criterion of having a living plant as an integral part of the design. Students will discover the diverse roles of plants in society, and by necessity, some degree of knowledge of the classification, structure and function of plants.

Weekly labs, both outdoors and in, will involve observing botany in action, microscopy, growing plants, and local field plant identification.