Economic Botany Links: Education
The interactions between plants and people are a fascinating and rich area of study. There is no single methodology for their study: the methodologies of ecology, anthropology, botany, biochemistry, medicine, linguistics and archaeology are all valuable. Undergraduate training in any of these can form a good basis for further training in or around ethnobotany. Specialist training is unusual at undergraduate level, except in the case of herbal medicine.
At postgraduate level there are now excellent opportunities for specialist training in various aspects of ethnobotany, including:
Ethnobotany programmes Still few in number, but increasingly popular.
Ethnobotany modules Embedded within broader degrees, often at undergraduate level. These are included in the list if the web pages include substantial information about the module.
Programmes in related subjects Anyone thinking of studying ethnobotany should also look at degrees in conservation, biodiversity, ecology, plant genetic resources etc, many of which have strong application to ethnobotany. A selection of such courses in the UK is included.
Short courses Mainly available in herbal medicine. Indicated in list by (S).
Many courses are listed here, but this list is not comprehensive. It is more complete for English language courses and for those based in the UK.
Choosing a postgraduate degree
Some factors to consider:
Subject area Degrees with similar names may have very different content. Look in detail at the individual modules, both core and optional. Think carefully about your skills and interests. For example, modules with a quantitative dimension (e.g. ecology) will suit those confident in mathematics. The overall orientation of a degree will often be in life sciences, social sciences, or even political sciences (policy aspects). Which of these will suit you best?
Course quality A subjective judgement! But it's important that you talk to a couple of current or recent students from the course. Look at external rankings for research quality (such as the Research Assessment Exercise in the UK), bearing in mind that it is the quality of the department, not the university, that is most important.
Institutional resources How many lecturers and other students are there in the degree's subject area? Is there an active research culture in the department? Ph.D. students?
Employment prospects One of the most important questions to ask... University departments usually have precise records for progression to further study or related employment. Bear in mind that this kind of degree won't have the employment record of an IT degree, so return on investment for self-funded students is not guaranteed.
Career planning Think carefully about your motivation for doing the course - this will affect the weighting you give to the above factors. If you are unsure about what to do, don't rely on further study to resolve this for you. Instead, consider a year or two of relevant employment - particularly if you have just finished an undergraduate degree.
Funding Details of relevant grants should be available through the institution offering the course, or through local cultural representatives, such as The British Council. The Wenner-Gren Foundation also offers postgraduate grants to anthropology students from developing countries.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa has a useful advice page for those planning to study ethnobotany.
Inclusion of a course in this list does not represent endorsement. Prospective students must satisfy themselves as to the quality and standing of courses and colleges.
Suggestions for further links, or other comments, are welcome; please email us at Links on this page were last updated on 30 November 2007.
Follow links to Education and Students.
"Challenging Training Opportunities" includes information on courses and programmes of various duration. It contains a careful selection of the large number of courses available in the heterogenous field of agricultural development. Available online and in print.
Centre for Economic Botany Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research Canberra, Australia
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC
U.S. National Arboretum Washington, DC
Bush food, plant defences and physiology Tropical Plant Sciences, James Cook University
Culture, Knowledge and Environment School of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Sciences, James Cook University
Ethnobotany Institut für Ökologischen Landbau, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Very active ethnobotany research group headed by Prof. Christian Vogl.
Department of Ethnomedicine Institute for the History of Medicine, University of Vienna
Ethnobotany and new crop development at the Laboratory for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany University of Ghent
Plants and Human Use (Distance Education) Guelph University
Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE) McGill University
Ethnobotany : Aboriginal People and the Plant World School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Ethnobotany group led by Prof. Nancy Turner
Sentient Experientials Also organises journeys to Ecuador (S)
D.U./Certificat International d'Ecologie Humaine Institut d'Etudes Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence
Hippocrates.com Distance learning course.
Diplôme Universitaire de Pratique Médicale en Phytothérapie Faculté de Médecine de Bobigny, Université de Paris 13
Formation Continue en Ethnobotanique Appliquée Faculté des Sciences Pharmaceutiques et Biologiques, Université de Lille 2 (S)
Plantes Médicinales et Médicaments de Phytothérapie Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse
Formation en Ethnopharmacologie Appliquée Société Française d'Ethnopharmacologie (S)
Formations Botaniques - Phytothérapie Association Régionale des Cours Professionnels de la Pharmacie (S)
MSc Natural Products and Biotechnology Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), Crete
M.Sc. Medicinal Plants & Herbal Resource Management Institute of Ethnobiology, Jiwaji University
MSc Programme in Medical Anthropology and Ethnobotany Padjadjaran University and Leiden University
Corso di Formazione per Farmacisti CENTRO FORMAZIONE - Azienda Usl 11, Empoli (S)
International Course on Economic Botany Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, University Leiden Branch (S)
MSc Programmes in Biodiversity and Natural Products Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, University Leiden Branch
Post Graduate Diploma in Herbal Medicine International College of Herbal Medicine
Tropical Ethnobotany; Tropical Ecosystems & Indigenous Cultures of Panama Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, Estación Biológica bocas del toro, Panama (S)
Ethnobotany Module within Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de Evora
Contact: Prof. Isabel Solange Martins de Oliveira (email@example.com)
Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in ethnobotany University of Natal, South Africa
Programma de Doctorado: Biodiversidad: Conservación y Gestión de las Especies y sus Hábitas Centro Iberoamericano de la Biodiversidad, Universidad de Alicante
Licenciatura en Biología Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales y Recursos Naturales, Universitat d´Alacant
Contact: Segundo Ríos Ruiz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Licenciatura en Farmacia. Doctorado en Farmacia Laboratori de Botànica, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de Barcelona
Contact: Joàn Vallès (email@example.com)
Ingeniero Agrónomo, Instituto de Sociologia y Estudios Campesinos, Universidad de Córdoba
Contact: Eduardo Sevilla Guzmán (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ingeniero Agrónomo, Jardín Botánico de Córdoba, Universidad de Córdoba
Contact: Esteban Hernández Bermejo (email@example.com)
Licenciatura en Farmacia. Doctorado en Farmacia Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Granada
Contact: María Reyes González-Tejero (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Licenciado en Biología Universidad de Jaén
Contact: Carlos Fernández López (email@example.com)
Contact: Luis Villar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Licenciatura en Biología, Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Universidad de León
Contact: Félix Llamas García
Contact: Francisco Javier Tardío (email@example.com)
Doctorado en Biología Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC (Madrid), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Contact: Ramón Morales Valverde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Licenciatura en Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Contact: Carmen Gómez Ferreras
Licenciatura en Biología. Doctorado en Biología (Programa Biología Fundamental) Departamento de Biología Vegetal (Botánica), Universidad de Murcia
Contact: Diego Rivera Núñez (email@example.com)
Licenciatura en Farmacia Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche
Contact: Antonia Dolores Asencio Martínez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ingeniero Agrónomo. Ingeniero Técnico Agrícola Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche
Contact: Concepción Obón de Castro (email@example.com)
Licenciado en Biología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Oviedo
Contact: Juan José Lastra Menéndez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Potential MSc/MRes students from the UK and EU should be aware of three main sources of postgraduate funding:
NERC awards Allocated by NERC to science courses considered of high calibre and meeting an important training need. Choice of students is made by the university, usually on the basis of your university application form and interview. Usually 5+ available for a given course. Details of which courses are supported by NERC are online - this changes from year to year.
ESRC awards Allocated by ESRC to students for certain social science courses - choice is not made by the university - and are for Masters/PhD (1+3) or PhD only (+3). Form can be difficult to fill in unless you have good assistance from the university department. Details on the ESRC web site.
University awards Incredibly varied, ranging from European Social Fund to internal scholarships. Usually highly competitive and unpredictable, so support from the department to which you are applying is essential.
MSc in Ethnobotany University of Kent at Canterbury
MSc in Himalayan ethnobotany University of Aberdeen
Prof. Michael Heinrich, School of Pharmacy, University of London
Dr Oliver Phillips, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Dr Andrea Pieroni, Department of Pharmacy, University of Bradford
M.Phil. in Environment, Society and Development Geography Department, University of Cambridge
MSc in Environment and Development School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia
MA Environment and Development Geography Department, Kings College London
MRes Environment and Development Geography Department, Kings College London
MSc in Participatory Forest Management and Extension International and Rural Development Department, University of Reading
MSc. Anthropology and Ecology of Development Department of Anthropology, University College London
Conservation & Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham
MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia
MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh
MSc in Conservation And Biodiversity University of Exeter in Cornwall
MSc in Conservation Biology Department of Anthropology, University of Kent
MSc Conservation Science Imperial College, London
MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management Department of Geography, University of Oxford
MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy Department of Geography, University of Oxford
MSc Environmental Change and Management Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
MSc/PgDip Botanical Conservation Faculty of Science, University of Plymouth
BSc (Hons) Applied Biosciences (Plant Sciences) Faculty of Science, University of Plymouth
MSc Plant Diversity School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading
MSc in Plant Conservation (seed banking) School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex
MSc in Conservation Department of Geography, University College London
MRes Ecology and Environmental Management Department of Biology, University of York
Ethnobotany University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland
Module within BA (Hons) Scottish Cultural studies
Ethnobotany and Sustainable Development Duchy College, Falmouth
Modules within Foundation Degree in Horticulture (Global Plant Use)
Ethnobotany Roehampton University
Modules within degrees in the School of Human and Life Sciences, e.g. Anthropology and Biosciences
Fundamentals of ethnobotany Writtle College, Essex
Module within various degrees related to horticulture and the countryside
Ethnomedicine Napier University, Edinburgh
Module within the Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences
People and Plants Leeds University
Module within the School of Earth and Environment
BSc Herbal Medicine Faculty of Health, University of Central Lancashire
BSc Herbal Medicine School of Health and Social Care, University of Lincoln
MSc in PharmacognosySchool of Pharmacy, University of London
BSc Herbal Medicine (Phytotherapy), BSc Traditional Chinese Medicine Middlesex University
BSc Herbal Medicine (Phytotherapy) Napier University
MSc in Herbal Medicine Scottish School of Herbal Medicine
BSc Herbal Medicine, MSc Chinese Herbal Medicine University of Westminster
MSc Palaeoecology of Human Societies Institute of Archaeology, University College London
MSc Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy University of Sheffield
MSc Biomolecular Archaeology University of Sheffield (NERC studentships available)
United States of America
Medical Botany Online mini-course from James Duke
Plants and People Online course from Life Sciences Department, Palomar College, California
Human Adaptability Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama
Medicinal Plants Arid Lands Resource Sciences, University of Arizona
The South West School of Botanical Medicine Bisbee, Arizona (S)
Ethnobotany Courses University of California, Riverside
Evolution of crop plants Paul Gepts, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis
Plants and Human Affairs Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder
Field Studies in Ethnobotany Department of Anthropology, Fort Lewis College, Colorado
Medical Anthropology Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder
Plants and Civilization Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut
Tropical Botany Department of Botany, University of Florida, in collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Garden and the National Tropical Botanical Garden (S)
Laboratories of Ethnobotany University of Georgia
Ethnobotany program Department of Botany, University of Hawaii
A leading graduate programme
Plants and their Uses by Man Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Plants and Society Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Plants and Human Society (268) University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
Plants and Human Affairs Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University
Economic Botany (BIO 531) Department of Biology, Southwest Missouri State University
Palaeoethnobotany and Ethnobotany Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St Louis
Plants and People Division of Life Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers State University of New Jersey
Plants and People Department of Biological Sciences, Cortland University
Graduate Studies. New York Botanical Garden. Major centre for graduate work.
Ethnobotany Department of Biology, Nazareth College New York
Ethnobotany Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University
Plants Humanity and Environment Department of Botany, Miami University
People and Plants (4103) Anthropology Department, Oklahoma University
Plants and Society Department of Biology, Linfield College
Cultural and Economic Botany Biology Department, Muhlenberg College
Economic Botany (BIOL 407), Medical Botany bot (BIOL 440) Department of Biology, Middle Tennessee State University
Mesoamerican Ethnobotany Department of Anthropology, University of Texas
People and Plants Department of Biology, Texas A&M University
B.Sc. Herbal Sciences Bastyr University
Mesoamerican ethnobotany Eugene Hunn, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington
Ecological Anthropology Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle
Teaching or supervision in ethnobotany is also offered by
as well as in some of the programmes mentioned below.
Degrees related to ethnobotany - Development and Environment
Degrees related to ethnobotany - Biodiversity and Conservation
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