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This is an interdisciplinary project management course.
This Interdisciplinary Colloquium course intends that you understand the living landscape —human and botanical— as a result of historical processes, decisions and accidents. Combining historical methods utilizing primary sources along with biological field methods, the natural and anthropogenic dynamics of West Indian botany are at the heart of the inquiry. Through this focus we expect students to gain various biological field research skills including plant (and other organismal) identification using keys as well as modern technology-based determination techniques, herbarium use, and the use of open-access technology for data collection, analysis, and citizen science.
Students will learn using all of their senses in this class, that is, you will smell, touch and taste as well as seeing and hearing.
Examples abound of the interplay between human and biological history. There are also local and island-wide histories of diversity documentation, what we can call natural history and historical botany. Both the English who colonized Barbados to produce sugar for the commodity market and the enslaved people who made up the majority population altered the landscape in profound ways. The accidental and intentional changes to the flora and fauna wrought by colonists, including the immediate and dramatic species introductions for intentional commercial purposes (and accompanying accidental pests), are often broadly referred to as Ecological Imperialism. In addition to Ecological Imperialism, we hope to bring greater focus to the less well described changes brought on by the longer-term inhabitation of the region where Barbadians often engaged in patri-scaping. A novel term coined for this course, patri-scaping is the intentional remaking, naming and assigning purpose to a landscape to reflect older ideals imported with immigrating peoples (including species introductions for decorative, medicinal, and religious uses in addition to commercial purposes).