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Course Description

Fundamentals of the Role of Plants in Urban Sustainability will engage you in discussions and investigations into the important connections that people have with the world of plants and challenge you to assess the value of plants in the long term sustainability of the urban landscape. You will explore the impact of domestication of wild plants from many angles including agriculture, medicine, and aesthetics. Historical accounts of plant use will be balanced with current, 21st century connections that describe the use and abuse of green spaces in our urban landscapes and the destruction of plant ecosystems around the world.

Designed For

Designed for urban community gardeners, co-operative associations, municipal planners and environmental advocates wishing to identify the potentials and constraints for gardens in the urban environment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Explore and determine the interconnectivity of plants and people (ethno-botany) both historically and in the modern urban environment;
  2. Discuss the role of plants in the advancement of sustainability with urban planners and decision makers;
  3. Defend the importance of urban horticulture and urban agriculture in terms of societal well-being;
  4. Recognize biodiversity in specific urban settings;
  5. Identify opportunities for ornamental and agricultural gardens in an urban environment;
  6. Advocate for the inclusion of more green space;
  7. Demonstrate the critical need for both children and adults to interact with nature; and
  8. Describe plant and landscape attributes which could increase property values.

Course Topics

  • Plants and Becoming Civilized
  • Plants as Food: Urban Agriculture
  • Plants as Indicators of Prosperity
  • Plants and Exploration; Plants and the Marketplace; Plants and the Media
  • Plants and Cultural Traditions; Plants and Modern Medicine
  • Plants and Crime; Plants and Mental Well-Being; Plants and Children
  • Plants and Urban Politics; Plants and Urban Biodiversity
  • Ethno-botany in the 21st Century: Going Full Circle  


Assessment Item Weight
Online Discussion 10%
Assignments (6 x 15%) 90%
Total 100%


Ontario Agricultural College; Department: Department of Plant Agriculture
Royal Botanical Gardens

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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