Ethnobotany Education, Opportunities, and Needs in the U.S.
AbstractThere is more interest in ethnobotany today, than at any
time in the discipline’s history. Ethnobotany, however,
suffers from many deficiencies, especially the lack of research
support, educational opportunities, and a theoretical
basis. Ethnobotanists should expand the definition of
ethnobotany to include all plant-people interactions, not
just those of traditional societies. They also must integrate
more effectively with colleagues in related disciplines and
promote ethnobotany’s relevance to Introductory Botany
and other courses. Ethnobotany and ethnobiology are
natural links to conservation biology, resource management,
and environmental education. An undergraduate
ethnobotany track could provide ideal training for medicine.
To be competitive, prospective students need to prepare
better for graduate school. They should have a firm
foundation in the botanical and anthropological sciences,
as a minimum. If ethnobotany is to become a mature discipline,
it must develop a theoretical framework while not
abandoning its descriptive history. Expanding ethnobotany’s
scope to include all plant and human interactions
greatly increases the funding, research, and job opportunities
for the discipline. More importantly, there is no compelling
intellectual argument for restricting ethnobotany’s
reach to traditional cultures.
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