A Chadron State College course exploring the historical, political, agricultural, economic and cultural relationships between humans and plant-based beverages will debut Monday.
Biology professor Dr. Joyce Hardy said she has enjoyed developing the three-credit-hour course which is a First Year Inquiry (FYI) component in the college's Essential Studies Program.
“It should be fun. We’ll be covering a lot of time periods, looking at different aspects of plant-based beverages beginning with the biological principle of hydration,” she said.
Cultural uses of beverages including religious ceremonies, stimulation, calming and self-medication will be explored in the online class.
“We’ll look through the lenses of different disciplines to consider connections and understand the role of plants in human culture. Globalization will be discussed through examples such as cola soft drinks,” Hardy said.
Class members will study a few uncommon beverages as well as common ones like coffee, tea and cocoa. The class will also examine the complexities of rum’s role in the American Revolution and the slave trade.
“Going back through old ship manifests, we see that rum was transported and stored because of its properties. Rum, like other plant-based beverages, was utilized as currency,” Hardy said.
Historically, wine and beer provided nutrients in societies that didn’t have good drinking water. Beer was the standard drink in Great Britain for many years until laws were passed to prevent children from drinking intoxicating beverages, according to Hardy.
The text Hardy will use is “History of the World in Six Glasses” by Tom Standage.
At the end of the four-week course, the 20 freshmen will develop a signature assignment about a beverage not covered in the class. Hardy intends for the final product to reveal their abilities to conduct research, integrate material from dissimilar disciplines and make critical judgments about what content to include.
The online course will be offered again in the first eight weeks of the spring 2015 semester.
“When the administration asked faculty to develop interdisciplinary content for the Essential Studies Program, I looked at what I could bring to this course with my background in biology, chemistry and agriculture,” she said. “I decided the ethnobotanical realm would be easiest for me to develop and it also meets the interdisciplinary expectations.”
We hope students will see learning as their reward. The purpose of the FYI courses is to invite and engage students to analyze problems and offer multiple solutions. I think FYI courses should help build curiosity.”
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