Evolution & History: Seed to Fork - How plants evolved and humans adapted them

Ref: C3533142

This is a course in two halves. For the first three weeks we explore the extraordinary 450-million-year evolution of plants and the inventive ways they solved the many problems arising from the move on to dry land – gravity, nutrition, desiccation and the particularly intractable and surprising issue of reproduction. After half term the focus shifts to how humans have adapted this bountiful heritage. We discover why, where and how agriculture was invented, and why this step has been described as “the worst mistake in history “. We continue with an overview of the key discoveries and different approaches to food growing in places as diverse as China, the Americas, the Islamic World and Britain. We culminate with the revolutionary changes of the Twentieth Century and the challenges and possibilities of the future.

Course aim

The course has two aims - to provide an introduction to the extraordinary 450-million-year story of the evolution of plants, and to describe how humans have adapted this heritage to their needs during 10 000 years of agricultural history

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe why reproduction was such a challenging issue to land plants.
  • "A seed is a baby plant in a box with its lunch". Explain this statement and describe why seed plants were so successful.
  • Outline two key developments that allowed flowering plants to spread so rapidly around the world.
  • Why did Jared Diamond describe the invention of agriculture as "the worst mistake in the history of the human race"
  • Name who invented the seed drill and the mouldboard plough.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This course is a fully online with no physical meeting space, accessing the course through Canvas our virtual learning environment and zoom a video conferencing software. No preparation is necessary before the course. Detailed notes will be made available on Canvas after each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Evolution & History: Seed to Fork - How plants evolved and humans adapted them

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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