Course Information and Syllabus for

Biological Sciences 490: Plant-Human Connections

Fall 2003

Professor: Dr. Kurt Schulz

Office: Science 3313, 650-3005 Lab: Science 3229

Office hours: 1:00-2:00 MT, or by appointment. (Please don't assume the instructor is always available for drop-in visits)


Class Meeting Times: lecture 10:00-11:00 MWF, lab 1:00-3:00 R

Text: Simpson, B. and M. Connor-Ogorzaly. 2001. Economic botany: plants in our world, 3rd ed. McGraw-Hill, Boston.

Course Objectives:

1. Explain and reenforce the scientific method as an objective mechanism for learning and knowing.

2. Develop an appreciation of evolution and natural selection as the unifying principles in biology.

3. Emphasize the inseparable relationship between human life and plants

Grades and Examinations:

A total of 450 points will be distributed as follows:

50 points each for two lab practicals

150 points, 75 points each for two lecture exams

100 points for the final exam

50 points for a PowerPoint presentation on an important medicinal or poisonous plant of your choosing

50 points for a research paper on the role of a "keystone" plant species in any modern or ancient culture

50 points for the presentation of your research results in a PowerPoint talk

All papers and talks will be graded on an A-F scale, with intermediate grades denoted as AB, BC, etc. Letter grades will be assigned point values (e.g., A = 95% or 48 of 50 points; AB = 90% or 45 points) for computational purposes.

No extra credit will be given. Please don't ask.

The following grades are guaranteed:

90-100% = A

80-89 = B

70-79 = C

60-69 = D

< 60 = F

Attendance, etc.

1. Students are expected to attend every class unless sickness, family emergency, or religious observances prevent attendance. The instructor will not assist students who cannot provide evidence of an acceptable reason for missing class. Do not plan vacations or other activities that conflict with class meetings.

2. The instructor must be notified in advance for students to postpone examinations. The instructor may demand evidence that the absence was legitimate.

Study Advice

1. Just as a fishing license is not a promise of catching a fish, paying tuition is not a promise of a specific grade. What you take from this course is largely of your own making.

2. Course notes are a custom-made tool which connects the themes in lecture to the details in the text. Use them to organize ideas and provide a context for factual material. A looseleaf binder is the flexible way to keep notes and handouts together.

3. Acquire the discipline of promptly reviewing and correcting course notes. Good notes not only record important information, but provide clear indications of what was stressed in lecture. Make it a habit to spend time after each lecture reviewing and correcting notes. Additional time will be required for reading the text and studying exams.

4. Read the text and other assigned materials.

Ethics in the Classroom

Cheating and plagiarism are academic crimes. Don't tolerate or engage in cheating. Please see page 14 of the Fall Class Schedule for details.


Week Lecture Topics Lab Topics Readings Notes
August 24 Plant anatomy and biology; manipulation of plants by people. Plant anatomy; collection of fiber sources SC-O, ch. 1
August 31 No class Monday

Origins of agriculture

Cahokia field trip SC-O, Ch. 2; Smith
September 7 Grasses Grass anatomy, morphology, taxonomy SC-O, Ch. 5 Judziewicz
September 14 Fruits and nuts Collecting and processing native fruits and nuts SC-O, Ch. 3-4
September 21 Fruits and nuts Collecting and processing native fruits and nuts; Legume flowers, nodules, forage crops, tofu SC-O, Ch. 3-4
September 28 Legumes Practical I SC-O, Ch 6. Friday, Exam I
October 5 No class Monday.

Foods from roots, leaves, stems

Harvesting storage roots in Typha; tropical fruits and vegetables SC-O, Ch. 7
October 12 Spices and herbs Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trip SC-O, Ch. 8
October 19 Oils, waxes, hydrogels and other goo TBA SC-O, Ch. 9-10
October 26 Medicinal plants, drugs, and poisons Student presentations SC-O, Ch. 11-12
November 2 Beverages Beer brewing SC-O, Ch. 13-14 Friday, Exam II
November 9 Fibers Refining fibers; dying cloth SC-O, Ch. 15
November 16 Wood Economic characteristics of wood; paper making SC-O, Ch. 16
November 23 Wood Forestry SC-O, Ch. 16. Additional readings
November 30 Thanksgiving Break
December 7 Student research presentations: keystone plants in societies Practical II
December 14 Final Exam, Monday, Dec. 15, 10:00-11:40

N.B. Minor schedule changes will be made to accommodate course objectives.