Sample Syllabus

GAI Medicinal Plants and Cultures of the Amazon

Sample Course Syllabus

(NOTE: This is a sample syllabus only; check for your institution’s syllabus for this course.  When no home institution syllabus is provided, GAI evaluates participants on the basis of this syllabus.)

Course Title: Study of Medicinal Plants and Cultures of the Amazon
Off campus activities required during summer
28 classroom hours/40 lab hours/80-100 independent study-project (min.)

Class Time and Place:
Instruction is independent study for two weeks prior to trip, and one week post trip. Two weeks during the summer will be spent in Amazonia, in various towns and jungle locations. Approximately 28 hours are spent in class with various faculty from the National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP), the national research institute for traditional medicine (IMET), local herbalists, and accompanying U.S. faculty. Lab hours are completed on the reserve studying plants and while traveling on the Amazon River. Independent study involves research, reading and writing toward the completion of an onsite oral report, a daily journal, and completion of a medicinal plant portfolio.

Course Description: This course provides the opportunity for “hands on” study in the rainforest of Peru. Students will live on a reserve, and travel to meet with botanists, taxonomists, pharmacists, herbalists, and farmers. Time in the classroom will focus on the pharmacology, physical chemistry, and ethnobotany of a variety of indigenous plants.

There is an extra charge for this study abroad course. An application is required. Read the application carefully as costs of some meals and incidentals are the responsibility of the student.

Rationale for proposed course:
Making available the opportunity to learn the medicinal properties of plants will enhance classroom work, and provide students with some of the basic principles of medicinal plants that they will need for practice. Participation in this course will enable and encourage students to be proactive in the health care environment that is seeking “natural” remedies. Upon completion of this course, students should be better prepared to participate as active citizens in their community and world.

Prerequisites:     Familiarity with Spanish language helpful but not required.

Suggested Course Credit: 4 semester hours

– Increase knowledge of alternative pharmaceutical resources.
– Improve knowledge and skills in pharmacognosy, ethnobotany
– Increase awareness of diverse of medical treatments.
– Develop an awareness and sensitivity for cultural diversity.
– Improve sense of environmental awareness and responsibility from a professional perspective.
– Promote growth as leaders and encourage teamwork that will improve future practice.
– Promote and develop interest in support of the sustainable development of Amazonia.

Course Objectives:
– Discuss the importance of sustainable development in any culture. Provide specific examples for Amazonia.
-Name the pharmacological properties of at least five plants used in Amazonia, to include:  Myrciaria dubia (Camu Camu) and Unicaria Tomentosa (Uña de Gato)
– Describe the process for preparation of medicinal plant extracts and formulation of usable product for each of the medicinal plants discussed.
– Define ethnobotany. Explain the purpose and Amazonia cultural use of the medicinal plants studied.
– Describe medicinal treatments used by the local herbalists.
– Compare and contrast the delivery of treatments in the United States vs. the belief in spiritual and plant treatments in Amazonia.
– List five reasons for preserving the rainforest and culture and the affect on health and wellness.
– Discuss the use of medicinal plants and the Pharmacy profession in general with a local pharmacist.
– Lead and participate in a group effort to learn and live in remote primitive conditions.

Format and Policies:
Students are required to read and follow the guidelines and policies as stated in their institution’s Advanced Practice Manual. This program may require additional policies that are site specific. These policies will be provided at the orientation completed by the site. When there are two policies (one home institution and one site) addressing a topic, the more rigorous policy applies.

Students must be actively enrolled and in good academic standing with their home institution.

An application is required for the medicinal plants course and must be received with a deposit by January 15th of any calendar year. A copy of a valid passport must be submitted prior to the time when airline tickets will be purchased. See Student Checklist for dates.

Maintain and submit copies of the following upon request to the preceptor and as dictated by the application:
1. Valid Passport
2. Proof of current immunizations, including Hepatitis Vaccine
3. Health Insurance
5. Yearly negative TB test
6. Current physical examination (within last year)

The Witch Doctor’s Apprentice. Nicole Maxwell. ISBN 1-56731-303-5
Looking for Mr. Guevara. Barbara Brodman. ISBN 0-595-18069-8
The Global Warming Answer Book. Provided by GAI

You must also research an approved topic related to medicinal plants and natural medicine and send copies to assigned faculty escort prior to trip. Your research will be presented orally to the group while you are on the GAI reserve.
Assessment Methods:

  • Reflective Journals (35%): Daily entries must discuss each of the course objectives at least one time to answer how you have achieved that objective. 2% will be lost for each objective not addressed at least once. Suggested topics for inclusion in your journals are: Integration of knowledge learned in the field with information gained from books and primary source research; discussion of goals and objectives and how those can be implemented into a practice; evaluation of the literature reviewed on medicinal plants and integration of that information into a discussion of the place in medicine for these treatments; discussion of the pharmacist’s role and potential for changing habits and attitudes of health care professionals and the public with respect to medicinal plants/research. Writing is required each day in journal discussing the activities, learning and involvement in the course.
  • Oral presentation of pre-assigned topic on medicinal plants and natural medicine (10%).
  • Daily participation in classes, reading assignment discussions (Witch Doctor’s Apprentice, Looking for Mr. Guevara, and the Global Warming Answer Book), setting up and tearing down camps, preparation for meals and clean-up, transport and all other team activities (35%): Five points will be deducted from final score for each incidence where a student has to be asked to participate, or is not prepared, or causes the team to be late for class or other activity. Five point loss for each incident of disruption of sleep of the team or guardians of the reserve. Failure to participate in activities as scheduled, or impromptu, of the rotation will result in a failing grade. Student will receive one warning that participation needs to improve. Students who fail to fully participate or fail to abide by house rules on the reserve will be required to return home early at their own expense.
  • Medicinal Plant Portfolio (20%): Each student will produce a portfolio containing plant cuttings, plant identification data, and uses.

Topics to be covered (see also calendar of class and lab)
1. Latin American Orientation
2. Orientation to Iquitos
3. Sustainable Development
4. Orientation to Reserve
5. Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical properties, Ethnobotany of plants
6. Meet with local pharmacist and local herbalists for sharing of medical treatment strategies; class in the Belen market
7. Indigenous plant use and farming of medicinal plants
8. Cultural visit to Yagua Indians
9. Medicinal plant topics and local treatments using plants found on the reserve
10. Teambuilding and cooperation skills

Global Awareness Institute (GAI)
P.O. Box 920
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33302