Ethnobotany is the study of the relationships between people and plants. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Ethnobotany Program (EBOT) is housed at UAF’s rural Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel, Western Alaska. Students enrolled in EBOT will learn about basic plant biology and floral ecology of Alaska, ethnobotanical research methods, ethical wildcrafting, traditional and new uses of local plants, economic applications of ethnobotany and how to work in an interdisciplinary and intercultural setting. Courses are based on Indigenous Ways of Knowing and mainstream academic knowledge. The EBOT program experience includes field trips with Elders and other plant experts and experiential learning opportunities, be it through hands-on or independent, student-led projects. The program maintains a student exchange with the University of Hawai’i Leeward Community College. The skills acquired through EBOT courses will prepare students for employment in fields such as health and wellness, cultural revitalization, tribal organizations, resource management agencies, education, etc. At the same time, the program offers three academic milestones: an Occupational Endorsement Certificate (EBOT OEC), a concentration in an Associates of Science degree and a minor in a Bachelors degree.
The 17-credit Ethnobotany Occupational Endorsement Certificate (EBOT OEC) is the first such program in Alaska and only one of a handful that are currently being offered in the United States. Ethnobotany (EBOT) is integral to life in Alaska because it integrates cultural knowledge and deepens our connection with the expansive and exceptional natural world at our doorstep.