Indigenous Knowledge, Botany, and Pharmaceuticals

Hoodia bainii Dyer original illustration from Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Hoodia bainii Dyer original illustration from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 

Botany, modern medicines, and indigenous knowledge


  • To introduce the core disciplinary structure of botany
  • To critically evaluate the ethical implications of patents
  • To introduce the concept of intellectual property and indigenous knowledge
  • To critically evaluate the distribution of wealth and resources from a Freiran perspective

Time Frame:

  • Questionnaire (10 minutes)
  • Pre-learning activity materials and reflection (30 minutes)
  • Asynchronous Discussion (40 minutes)
  • Post-discussion reflection and discussion (20 minutes)

 Target Audience:

  • This activity is designed for undergraduate students in an introductory multidisciplinary science Life Sciences/Natural Science/Botanical Science class


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to define indigenous knowledge
  • Students will be able to identify the core requirements of patents
  • Students will be able to identify the basic framework of the botanical discipline, include type specimens
  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the location of information sources related to indigenous knowledge, botany, and patents



1. Students should take the questionnaire

2. Students should review the pre-learning materials:

3. Students should find one example of indigenous knowledge related to plants and post the URL and a short description (a sentence or two) to the Discussion page.

4. Students should construct answers to the questions provided on the Discussion page.

5. If students have additional questions, they should post those as Comments on the Discussion page.

Before Beginning

Plant Science: Core Concepts and Global Scope is an exploration of the foundational and related elements of global plant biodiversity. The United Nations is celebrating 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity and is calling on nations and citizens to educate themselves about the preservation of global plant biodiversity. This course is designed to provide that education. Many have the perception of plant science as being an archaic discipline out of pace with modern research. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Plant science explores the foundational building blocks of our environment and has far reaching economic, political, and social effects on peoples around the globe. This course will introduce you to these foundations and effects.  

This course is designed to be delivered entirely online and therefore there are technical considerations. Since it is designed for our global community, it is important that technical skills or restrictions do not limit participation. This section will prepare you for Plant Science: Core Concepts and Global Scope. It should be completed before proceeding to the Course Sections.


  1. Create a Gmail account
  2. Create a Tumblr Account
  3. Learn how to send images and text from your mobile phone to Tumblr by reading this.
  4. Watch the tutorial video on how to create a wiki account and how to edit a wiki page. You will be required to edit these pages to create learning resources with your fellow students so it is critical to develop this skill before beginning.
  5. Watch the JSTOR Plant Science tutorials. This course relies heavily on both JSTOR and JSTOR Plant Science so it is important that students know how to navigate and find information on both these sites.
    1. JSTOR Plant Science Overview
    2. JSTOR Plant Science Content
    3. JSTOR: Advanced Searching
  6. Watch the Google Maps video on how to create your own map and embed it on this wiki.
  7. Once you have completed the above, please return to the Course Design: Plant Science page and begin Course Section: Global Biodiversity.



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