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Course Description

How can we discern medicinal plant facts from fiction while also honoring the human foundations of drug discovery? This survey course is built on four essential pillars:
anthropology, botany, chemistry, and pharmacology. Non- experts will discover connections between the anthropological foundations and scientific principles underlying plant-derived drugs by looking at representative individual species. Through guest speakers and student-led presentations, plant walks, and simple experiments, students will be introduced to the broad fields of ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and plant biotechnology. 

This course has been approved by the Academic Review Board to count toward Natural Sciences distribution credit

John de la Parra is an ethnobotanist and biotechnologist who has brought innovation to medicinal plant research in academia. He has also brought expertise to the cannabis industry as a consultant across the country. He previously taught Medicinal Plants: From the Sacred to the Scientific in the ExCollege, and he currently teaches Environmental Fieldwork in the Tufts Environmental Studies program. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from Northeastern University.