A Prescription for Curiosity

Western Herbalism: History, Theory, and Practice

You hear something like "Western Herbalism," and images start to form in your head. Some of us have a grasp on what herbalism is—something to do with plants, right?—but the Western spin on it begins to form a different impression. And then you look at a course like Western Herbalism: History, Theory, and Practice, and it all starts to feel a little esoteric, perhaps.

Not at all, suggest instructors Lois Hendrickson and Macey Flood. "I imagined that the target group [for participants] would be complete outsiders," says Lois. That's Macey's perspective as well: "I truly think anyone would have a ball in this course. This is a great course for non-experts."

What does their course, Western Herbalism: History, Theory, and Practice, hold for the curious outsider? A collection of rare books is the most popular answer, they find. Lois was inspired by the University's Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine to create a course centering on these beautiful and intriguing materials. That certainly appealed to Macey, a PhD candidate in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Frequent visits to the worlds within these antique tomes made her want to share this experience with other curious people.

"Spending time in the library," Macey says of her interests, "touching and exploring rare books, and hanging out at the Native American Medicine Gardens learning about plants are ideal for spending some time in new places, having special experiences, and learning a few things about history along the way."

Lois, Macey's mentor, concurs: "I think people are also interested in exploring lesser-known or 'hidden collections' that are not normally accessible, and this gives them the opportunity to do that." While the undergraduates who had to reference these books for class found them interesting, it was the diverse participants in outreach sessions, attending out of their own interest, that found this library engrossing and attractive.

Come have your imagination piqued during this unique, hands-on exploration of Western herbal medicine and how it was practiced in Europe and later, in the United States.

 

Course Details

Western Herbalism: History, Theory, and Practice

Thursdays, July 26 to August 9, 10 a.m.−noon, $135

Cante Suta-Francis Bettelyoun, Coordinator, Native American Medicine Gardens, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, is co-creator and facilitator of Buffalo Star People, a nonprofit that facilitates healing circles for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

Margaret (Macey) Flood, MA, University of Minnesota, is a PhD candidate in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, where she studies narrative, social identity, and botanical medicine in the 19th- and 20th-century United States.

Lois Hendrickson, MA, University of Denver, is Curator of the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches more than 60 classes and outreach sessions per year to students in a variety of disciplines.

Offered in cooperation with the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine.

Published on July 16, 2018