Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Nov 13 10:24:31 EST 1998

At 8:49 PM -0500 11/12/98, Jon Monroe wrote:
>On 12 Nov 1998, Ross Koning wrote:
>> >How do we defend our profession?
>> I address this question in my first lecture in
>> all my courses...usually rephrased as why study
>> botany?  When you think about our food, our oxygen,
>> fossil fuels (and products), electricity, rubber,
>> flavors, fragrances, medicines...well I guess
>> you get my drift.
>> My website has a better list.
>I don't really disagree with you Ross, but we ask our students to learn
>all sorts of things about how organisms evolve, reproduce, make a living
>energetically, express genes, solve problems of heat and water balance,
>maintain homeostasis, transduce signals from the environment into changes
>in gene expression, etc.  All organisms do these things _including_
>plants.  In my mind plants and animals are a whole lot more similar than
>they are different.  I hope our students don't get the impression that
>biology is about animals and the plants that serve them.

Hi Jon!

Indeed you are right and my courses cover these very
topics too, but my point is that animals are completely
dependent upon plants (past and present) for the very
basic survival needs.  To motivate the "animal-centered"
student to study a plant, pointing out this dependency
makes their study more personally relevant.

If we say only that plants are "just like animals" too much,
then that further justifies the kind of "so forget them"
attitude that Cyndy was expressing in her email.  The
*differences* observed in plants are in fact the very reason
for the dependency and the motivation to study them.

I guess I'd say that the opening shot of my courses is
more that biology is about plants and the animals which
depend upon kind of turn your last phrase
around a bit.


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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