All course information is listed within this syllabus.

HORT 150N: Plants in the Human Context (3 credits). This course provides an introduction to the fascinating and vital relationships between plants and human society.  Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own connection with plants and nature, share ideas with peers, and create a lesson.

Prerequisites: None

HORT 150N fulfills the following requirements:

  • General Education: Natural Sciences (GN)
  • General Education: Social and Behavioral Science (GS)
  • General Education - Integrative: Interdomain
  • GenEd Learning Objective: Critical and Analytical Thinking
  • GenEd Learning Objective: Integrative Thinking


Instructor for HORT 150N

Kirsty Lloyd
Assistant Teaching Professor

Department of Plant Science
102 Headhouse I
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Course Overview

Plants play a dynamic role in shaping our lives. In reality, human existence on Earth was made possible by the “breath” of plants through photosynthesis. Likewise, our botanical connections and interactions are many: we need plants for food, beverages, medicines, materials, healthy lifestyles, and aesthetics.  A handful of plants have also shaped human history.  We’ll consider the relationship between plants and humans from multiple perspectives, including differences among cultures and change over time. 

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe basic principles of plant form and function, including the array of chemicals produced by plants, as well as different groupings of plants.
  • Explain how plants have migrated around the world (e.g., apples, potatoes, sugar cane) and give examples of effects on human civilization and ecology.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of technological developments for growing, processing, and storing plants and their products.
  • Consider the importance of labor and land in plant production, with relevance to social and environmental justice.
  • Examine how plants feed and heal us and how we use plants to alter our consciousness.
  • Develop the ability to analyze our relationship with plants from both social and biological perspectives.

Course Outline

Module 1: Plants and Humans - A Long Affair
Module 2: The Characters
Module 3: Making Light Matter
Module 4: Migration
Module 5: Seeds
Module 6: Environment
Module 7: Labor
Module 8: Land
Module 9: Hunger
Module 10: Thirst
Module 11: Healing
Module 12: Consciousness
Module 13: Beauty
Module 14: Strength

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to your Syllabus and Calendar within Canvas.

Course Materials

No textbook is required for the course. All materials will be available via Canvas or e-reserves.

Grading Policy

Grading Criteria
Requirement Description Cumulative Point Value Weight
Group Discussions (4) Each consists of two to three prompts  --- 40%
Papyrus (14) Private journal, weekly reflections --- 30%
Lesson (1) Create a lesson to share --- 15%
Quizzes (14) Multiple-choice, unlimited attempts --- 10%
Participation Short activities and student feedback --- 5%
TOTAL: --- 100%
Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Remote Learning

Visit the Penn State Remote Learning website as it provides answers to frequently asked questions, offers student support resources, and contains contact information for those who can help answer any questions you may have about learning remotely.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. Please visit the University Libraries website as it provides services including tutorials, peer reference consultants, an ask-a-librarian chat service, and data support to students from all campuses.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the Internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the Internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the Internet.

Getting Help with Canvas Courses

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's " The Core Rules of Netiquette " for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to-date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class for each semester and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20 , G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct ).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias page.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their web privacy statement . Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
  • Mental Health Services

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus . For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation . If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.