non major's textbooks

Virginia Berg Virginia.Berg at
Tue Jun 19 10:48:05 EST 2001

For a nonmajor botany book, I have been using the paperback Levetin & McMahon,
Plants and Society. There is MUCH TOO MUCH terminology in the first half of the
book (kinds of fruits, seeds, etc.), and too much about atoms and electrons (in
the introductory chapter entitled "Plants in our Lives"!), but I just tell the
students they only need the terminology they encounter in class. Also, I just do
my own thing when it comes to physiology. The second half is very nice economic
botany. But it's sort of like eat your vegetables and then you can have dessert
-- not very popular these days -- so I alternate chapters from the front and
from the back. If you email me, I can send a copy of my syllabus, and my
handouts on the main points in genetics and physiology. I'll have material on my
website ( when my class is offered in the fall. I think that
the best approach for nonmajors is ideally quite different from that for majors.
The latter at least think biology (if not plants) is important to their lives;
the former need to be convinced. Most books are aimed at botany majors, or at
least biology majors who are forced to take a plant course. My feeling is that
it is far better for nonmajor students to look at a cup of coffee some time
later and say, "Caffeine -- bug poison" than it is to have them forget three
varieties of dehiscence. But then I can't remember all those terms, either.

--Gini Berg

Zoger Abigail wrote:

> I'm selecting my text book for a non-major's botany class for the fall. I've
> looked at some books and so far the one I liked the best is Stern's
> _Introductory_Plant_Biology_, but I'm not excited about it. Does anyone have
> any other suggestions?
> Abigail Zoger
> Department of Life Sciences
> Santa Rosa Junior College
> 1501 Mendocino Avenue
> Santa Rosa, CA 95401
> (707)-527-4524
> ---


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