August 24 – November 20, 2020
Instructor: Daniel Cooley, Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Course objectives: At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Describe a basic plant disease cycle, and interpret disease cycles for plant diseases;
- List basic methods used to manage plant diseases, with the advantages and disadvantages to each in terms of sustainability.
- Describe basic ecological interactions between humans, plants, microbes and other organisms in agricultural ecosystems.
- Outline how agroecosystems differ from natural ecosystems, and why plant diseases generally are more common and severe in agroecosystems;
- Describe how the evolution of plants and plant pathogens relates to management concepts such as disease resistance and fungicide resistance.
- Be able to research a plant disease, and describe it and its management in simple, clear terms.
Reading and Videos: There is no text in the class, but reading and videos will be assigned regularly.
Discussions: Specific reading and videos will be used as a basis for Forum Discussions. Discussions are based on articles from the popular press or scientific literature, designed to look at critical issues in agricultural ecology and plant disease. Students are asked to write briefly, a paragraph or two, in the forum, and respond to others posts.
Quizzes: A set of quizzes will give students guidance in learning the fundamentals of plant disease management. These are low-stakes – you may take them twice and the best grade will be recorded.
Project: The class will develop tools to educate and support growers or the public in plant disease management. These will take the form of “Fact Sheets”, a common tool used by Extension,giving the basic facts about a topic. In our case, they will be about a plant disease and how to manage it.
Exams: There are two exams with a set of four or five short essay questions that require you to think about and synthesize ideas from the course. These may be done over a few days.