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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2018
Sep 17, 2021
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BIOL 018 - Plants and Civilization
Plants are the foundation of all life on earth; though they could thrive in a world without animals, we wouldn't survive long without them. Humans depend on plants not only for food and oxygen, but also as sources of fuel, clothing, shelter, drugs, adornments, and more. Indeed, we often don’t even recognize the botanical origins of many of the products we use every day. 

Plants have also had an enormous influence on the course of human history.  Consider, for example, that the origin of agriculture paved the way for the development of civilization, and that the great sea voyages of the ‘Age of Exploration’ were motivated by a search for tropical spices such as pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.

In this course we will examine the biology and history of plants important to humans.  Our investigations will lead us into the realms of history, economics, politics, agriculture, religion, medicine, and language, as human uses of plants weave through all of these fields.  The stories of chocolate, opium, rubber, cork, and even bananas contain elements of exploration, exploitation, subterfuge and invention as gripping as any mystery novel.  And of course plants and plant products have long served as a foundation for traditional as well as modern medicine.  We will also look to the future, and consider the possible implications of the loss of plant species and genetic diversity; the increasing importance of bio-fuels; the use of plants as inspiration for manufactured products (biomimicry); and the controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms. 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Biology Department

Course Attributes:
Mean Grade is Calculated

May not be enrolled in one of the following Fields of Study (Major, Minor, Concentration, or Certificate):

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