GEN2011 Plants and Civilization

Common Core Curriculum Office (CCCO) > GEN2011 Plants and Civilization
Social Science
AY2012/13 Sem 2, AY2013/14 Sem 2, AY2016/17 Sem 2, AY2017/18 Sem 1, AY2017/18 Sem 2, AY2018/19 Sem 1, AY2018/19 Sem 2, AY2019/20 Sem 1, AY2019/20 Sem 2, AY2020/21 Sem 2, AY2021/22 Sem 2, AY2022/23 Sem 2, AY2023/24 Sem 2
Lecture 3 hours
3 (Science and Technology)


GEN1000 Perspectives on General Education 



Module Description

The module introduces the impact of plants upon human civilization and encourage students to engage with natural environment with proper awareness. Primary concepts of botany are introduced in relations to understand the interactions between plants and people. Themes such as the uses of plants as sources of food, medicine, drugs, spices, beverages, and plant exudates are examined. Different aspects on the context of plantation and human history, like the sociocultural benefits of plantation, bleeding and domestication, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), are also discussed.

Module Intended Learning Outcomes (MILO)

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to: 
a. Illustrate essential plant biology, including plant structure, physiology and taxonomy, to make intelligent decisions as consumers of plant products
b. Interpret the scientific process in investigating topics botany. 
c. Evaluate the multiple economic uses of plants by humans for food, beverage, medicine, and industry. 
d. unravel the main strands of designs and styles mirrored in gardens, including the building of national, group and personal identity. 
e. nurture a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation about the plant kingdom and its diverse interactions with humans in historical and modern contexts.

Module Content

1. Basic botany

1.1 The plant kingdom
1.2 Plant physiology and structure
1.3 Plant taxonomy, scientific name and classification

2. Agriculture, food and beverages

2.1 Plants and civilization
2.2 Plants, agriculture and food production
2.3 Plant domestication, breeding and green revolution
2.4 Genetic engineering of plants and the GM food controversy

3. Trees, Spices, herbs, drug plants and plant exudates

3.1 Spices, Herbal medicine and drugs
3.2 Plants as cash crops: Rubber, Oil palm and other plantations
3.3 Incense tree and agarwood
3.4 Plantation, slave trade and forest destruction

4. Gardening and horticulture

4.1 Western and oriental gardens
4.2 Gardening plants
4.3 Group Plantation Project and workshops

5. Plants and sustainable development

5.1 Problems of modern agricultural production
5.2 Organic farming and organic food
5.3 Seed Bank
5.4 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Assessment Methods

1. Assignment (20%)
2. Group field study project (30%)
3. Individual essay (50%)

Texts & References

  1. Ladner, P. (2011). The urban food revolution: Changing the way we feed cities. Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society.
  2. Laws, B. (2011). Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History. Ontario: Firefly Books.
  3. Levetin, E. & McMahon, K. (2011). Plants and Society (6th ed.). Boston, WCB McGraw-Hill.
  4. Musgrave, T. & Musgrace, W. (2003). An Empire of Plants: People and Plants that Changed the World. London: Cassell.
  5. Pollan, M. (2009) The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s eye view of the World. New York: Random House.
  6. 李以卿譯(2000)《馬鈴薯:拯救人類、改變歷史的貧民美饌》台北:藍鯨。
  7. 香港漁農自然護理署,香港植物標本室, 及中國科學院華南植物園編(2015)《香港植物誌》(Flora of Hong Kong)第一卷。香港:漁農自然護理署。
  8. 吳平等譯 (2006)《歷史六瓶裝:啤酒、葡萄酒、烈酒、咖啡、茶與可口可樂的文明史》台北:聯經。
  9. 葉曉文 (2020) 尋花 : 香港原生植物手札 香港增訂版 . ed.). 香港 : 三聯書店(香港)有限公司.
  10. 薛絢譯(2002)《上癮五百年—咖啡、煙草、大麻、酒…的歷史力量》台北:立緒文化。