Austria, Vienna

Plants and People - Contemporary Ethnobotanical Research and Application

when 3 July 2017 - 14 July 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 8 ECTS
fee EUR 750

In this course you will become acquainted with the history, theories and concepts related to ethnobotany, as well as the most important ethnobotanical journals and institutions. You will learn about different topics of ethnobotanical research by reviewing, presenting and discussing current scientific literature. You will also receive both botanical and anthropological training in order to learn how to conduct interdisciplinary research. During several excursions you will explore local plant use with specialists and become acquainted with the local flora and its specific and traditional uses.

Together let’s dive into the world of human-plant relationships!

Course leader

Elisabeth Kuhn, PHD (Cultural- and Social Anthropologist; University of Vienna) and Heidemarie Pirker, PHD (Agro-Ecologist and Ethnobotanist, University of Vienna/ University of Life Sciences and Natural Resources, Vienna)

Target group

Students interested in botany, anthropology, agriculture, sociology

Course aim

Ethnobotany is the study of human-plant relationships. It is a multi-disciplinary scientific field requiring both anthropological and botanical skills. An ethnobotanist examines people’s culture, beliefs, language, knowledge of plants and observes, describes, analyses and explains the interactions and relationships between people and plants. Ethnobotany covers the harvest and use of cultivated and wild plants for food, medicine, dyes, fibres, craft, customs and rituals.

The scientific skills and knowledge taught in this course (theories, concepts, methods, etc.) are applicable to research in any region of the world. In this course we will mainly discuss case studies and selected scientific literature on ethnobotanical research in Europe. During field trips you will explore the local knowledge of plants and their uses in Austria.

In the first week you will become acquainted with the definition of terms, concepts and theories related to ethnobotany. You will receive both botanical and anthropological training in order to learn how to conduct interdisciplinary ethnobotanical research. Furthermore, you will understand the relevance of ethnobotany for the sustainable management of natural plant resources, get to know different ethnobotanical domains based on various case studies (plants in the context of migration, the use of wild plants and the relevance of belief systems for the management of natural resources, etc.). Additionally, you will get to know the most influential journals, scientific working groups and websites dealing with ethnobotany. The lectures will include many practical exercises, videos, interactive methods and group discussions.

In the second week during field visits and excursions you will explore applied knowledge of plants. You will also get additional methodological input and be able to test the methods learned. Based on current ethnobotanical research you will actively discuss ethnobotanical topics with your colleagues. You will gain experience in team work, improve your ability to analyse and interpret scientific case studies and develop your discussion and presentation skills. During the excursions you will gain knowledge of plants gathered in the wild, explore how they are used and how they taste. You will also explore how gardens in the city influence human relationships.

Credits info

Participants will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the summer school and all necessary documentation to validate the course at their home university.

Fee info

EUR 750: The reduced student fee is EUR 750, for professionals it is EUR 1200.

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