HON 3253.003 (CRN 24508) Honors Seminar: PLANTS and SOCIETY
This seminar course is part of the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)
Class time and location: T. R. 11:00am
12:15pm in HSS 2.02.20
Instructor: Dr Valerie Sponsel.
Tel: 458 5929
Office Hours: BSE 1.642.
Through Jan and Feb: T and R 12:30
From Mar 1 on: T and R 5:00
6:00pm, or by appointment
WAC Assistant: Jennifer Risk
Tel: 458 5353
Office Hours: HSS 4.02.64
T and R 2:00
Plants give us our food, animal feed, fiber, pharmaceuticals and fuel. This class
examines how we use plants a
nd plant products. We will consider both classical and
contemporary methods of “improving” plants, through plant breeding and
biotechnology respectively, and the biological principles on which crop
improvements are based. We will also examine some contemp
orary issues, such as
global food security in the 21
century, the use of biotechnology in food production,
and the use of plant material to generate biofuels
Text : “Plants, Genes and Crop Biotechnology.” Second edition
By M. Chrispeels and D. Sadova.
Published by Jones and Bartlett in partnership with
the American Society of Plant Biologists. Copyright 2003
All students will do two projects during the semester, one on a genetically modified plant
(powerpoint presentation to class and paper), and one
on any relevant subject as approved
by Dr Sponsel (presentation of abstract to class, and paper). See details on next page.
You will be expected to do literature searches especially to find source material for your
GMO paper. Other reading material will
be placed on 2
hour reserve in the library to
give you ideas for your final paper. These books include “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by
M. Pollan (2006), “Green Inheritance: Saving the Plants of the World” by Anthony
Huxley (2005) and “Sustainable Ethanol” by A
and J Goettemoeller (2007).
This course is part of
Writing Across the Curriculum.
The aim of the WAC project is
to use writing as a tool to help you master the knowledge and skills relevant to this
course. You will have the opportunity to get advice and
feedback from our WAC
Assistant (Jennifer Riske) who will help you edit written material.
Outline of the semester’s work:
Genetic basis of plant growth and development
esis and crop yield
Mol basis of genetic modification of crops
Improving human diet thru crop improvement
Case study: cassava
Return Test 1. Discussion of GMO
Global considerations, demographics
Global considerations etc. cont.
3, 4, 5
10,000 yrs of crop evolution
From classical pl breeding to modern crop improvement.
Guest lecture. Gwe
Smith, Amazon Conservation
Last date for selection of GMO topics
Towards a greener agriculture
Urban myths and real concerns
Case reports, oral presentations
Case reports “
Case reports “
Case reports “
GMO papers due from everyone
Plants as sources of phytochemicals
Drugs from plants
for treating pain
drugs for treating cancer
Fiber (cotton) Paper, wood and rubber
Fuel from plants.
Last day to have chosen topic for final term paper.
More on fuel
Summing up of semester. Student discussion of final papers
discussion of final papers
Final paper must be turned in NO later than the day of the Final exam
FINAL EXAM 10:30 am
There will be
worth 25% of your semester grade, and a
exam worth 30%
each of the seme
Both Test 1 and the Final will comprise some multiple
choice questions, some short
answers and essays.
Test 1 covers material from Jan 13 through Feb 3
Final exam covers LECTURE/CHAPTER material from Feb 12 to the end of the
ll be two assignments based on your own literature research
(1) A “
” on a genetically modified organism (GMO), which will comprise a
15 min oral presentation to the class and a written paper. The paper will be edited by
our WAC Assistant f
or writing style (students will submit their drafts to her according to
a schedule set up in March), and submitted for a final grade based on scientific content
and writing style. This is worth 30% of the semester grade
(2) There will also be a
due no later than May 5 that will be worth 15%
of the semester grade. The topic for this paper can be any subject matter relevant to the
course. Your topic must be pre
approved by Dr. Sponsel, and the paper must include a
300 word abstract that outli
nes the paper and is the basis for classroom discussion. This
paper can also be edited in consultation with Jennifer Riske prior to submission.
A final semester letter grade will be assigned on the following basis (A= 90
89%, C= 70
9%, F=less than 60%).
up test 1 will only be given only to those students who were sick or had a death in
the family and who notify me within TWO days of the scheduled test date. All excuses
for missed tests must be substantiated in writing (doctors
note etc). Make
up tests (which
short answer/essay questions) must be taken within 5 days of the
scheduled test. There will be no make
up for the FINAL EXAM.
The last day to drop this course and receive an automatic grade of W is
to attend class. Material will be discussed in class that is
additional to that in the assigned text. In addition, student participation in discussions is
re expected to gain a broad understanding of the importance of plants and
derived products to human health and well
being. They will become aware of
importance of global food security, and how plant scientists and others can work to
achieve this. The
emphasis on writing is to assist you in learning and understanding the
course material, and to help you improve your writing skills.
The University expects every student to maintain a high standard of individual work
tic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test or other
class work, plagiarism and collusion. Of particular importance to this course is
plagiarism, a term defined as the appropriation of another’s work and the incorrect,
incorporation of it in one’s own written work. If you have any questions
about the guidelines for documentation, talk to me immediately. Instances of scholastic
dishonesty/plagiarism will incur major, serious consequences. All instances will be dealt
following the Guidelines of the Office of Student Life.