Student peeking out above Swiss chard leaves

Plants, People, and the Planet

Producing and consuming plants responsibly and sustainably for healthy people and a healthy planet

Who should take this experience?

Plants, People, and the Planet Flyer
Students interested in the interactions of the following majors:
  • Plant Biology
  • Plant Sciences
  • Human Development
  • Community and Regional Development
  • Nutrition Science

Students completing GE requirements.

Offered Fall 2022

Apply Now

Plants provide the air we breathe and nutrients for healthy physical and mental development. They support the diversity of our ecosystems, our adaption to a changing climate and the production of a wealth of medications and bioproducts. We need to understand how to create responsible production and consumption cycles that encourage sustainable agricultural and environmental practice and lifestyles that are in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.  

UC Davis and the Sacramento region are a world-leading hub for plant-related science.

The Sacramento region is a meeting point for

the agriculture of the Central Valley, the rich biodiversity of the north coast areas, and California state government--where decisions about how to preserve our biodiversity and continue to feed large parts of the world are debated and made. Sacramento also sits in the midst of diverse migrant, immigrant, and Native American communities who offer different viewpoints as to how to produce and consume plants in responsible and sustainable ways.  

Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a focal point, Plants, People, and the Planet will engage with the diversity and the limitations of plants as natural and cultural resources in order to understand how to meet these challenges. 

The Curriculum

FACULTY

  • Joe Anistranski, Human Development
  • Debbie Fetter, Nutrition
  • Daniel Potter, Ethnobotany
  • Philipp Zerbe, Plant Biology

COURSES

This experience offers courses Human Development (HDE), Nutrition (NUT), Plant Biology (PLB), and Plant Science (PLS).

  • HDE 100C Adulthood and Aging | Anistranski (4 units)
  • Development during early, middle, and late adulthood; biological, cognitive, and psycho-social aspects of adult development. Emphasis on normative patterns of development which characterize "successful” aging.
  • NUT 10 Nutrition | Fetter (3 units)
  • Nutrition as a science; historical development of nutrition concepts; properties of nutrients and foods; basic nutrition concepts along with the role of diet in health.
  • PLS 141 Ethnobotany | Potter (4 units)
  • Relationships and interactions between plants and people, including human perceptions, management, and uses of plants, influences of plants on human cultures, and effects of human activity on plant ecology and evolution. Concepts, questions, methods, and ethical considerations in ethnobotanical research.
  • PBI 298 Plant Biology | Zerbe (3 units)
  • Natural variation of plant natural products, plant interaction with the environment and mechanisms of stress defense, tools for investigating plant-environment interactions, synthetic biology applications for bioproduct manufacture and crop engineering/breeding, bioethics of plant engineering/breeding
  • 192 Community Engagement Course (3 units)
  • Experiential learning aimed at integrating and applying themes from the other courses, emphasizing connections to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Students will participate in internships with community partners to work on SDG-related projects that build on the themes of people-plant relationships discussed in the other courses in the program. Internships may include research, field work, literature review, community outreach, student-organized workshops and other activities building on the course concepts and discussions. The course will also include a series of speakers and panels from our partner organizations,  who will look more broadly at the work of any given organization and consider the career pathways that led to working in their particular fields and the articulation of the work their organization does with the SDGs. Finally, students will invite their hosts to attend a symposium, including a dinner, student presentations, and time for socializing and discussion at the Alice Waters Institute (leveraging the “teaching kitchen” space), to share what they have learned and hear feedback and reflections from community partners.

INTERNSHIPS

Community Partners may alternate in any given iteration of the program. Specific community partners with whom we are pursuing options for internships include: Cache Creek Conservancy, Wilton Rancheria, Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Sacramento Native American Health Center, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, California State Indian Museum, Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture and Education Project, Edible Schoolyards, Center for Land-based Learning, City of Trees, Urban Agriculture, CalFresh, Global Food Initiative/World Food Center, Student Farm, YPAR, Aggie Compass, CDFA, Incubator Spaces, City of Sacramento Department of Youth, Parks, & Community Enrichment (Community Gardens), Sacramento Certified Farmers' Market.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS AND ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Community engagement is a key emphasis of our program. As part of the three-unit 192 course, students will participate in internships with partners within the community to work on SDG-related projects that build on the themes of people-plant relationships discussed in the other courses in the program. Internships may include research, field work, literature review, community outreach, student-organized workshops and other activities building on the course concepts and discussions.

The course will also include a series of speakers and panels over the quarter, made up of the organizations with which the students are working.  These speakers and panels will look more broadly at the work of any given organization and consider the career pathways that led to working in their particular fields and the articulation of the work their organization does with the SDGs.

At the culmination of the course, students will invite their hosts to attend a symposium, including a dinner, student presentations, and time for socializing and discussion at the Alice Waters Institute, leveraging the “teaching kitchen” space, to share what they have learned and hear feedback and reflections from community partners.

Learn More

Primary Goals

Students will

  • explore domestic and foreign plant uses, perception and management 
  • explore healthier and more sustainable practices for their own development and health
  • understand how genetic resources can play a role in the preservation of biodiversity and natural habitats 
  • study how the natural ability of plants to respond to their environment can be used to improve sustainable crop production 
  • examine how plants contribute to human and environmental health and explore ways to create sustainable natural environments within the urban space that can contribute to healthy human development.