For some years past there has been an ever-increasing feeling among educators that the average college courses in elementary science have fallen far short of meeting the needs of the average student. For the most part such courses have been conducted on the supposition that their sole purpose was to lay the foundation for further advanced work in their particular field. For the man who knows what he wants, this is essential. Many students, however, fall into other categories. Some take a first course because it is required; others to see whether or not they might become seriously interested in a subject; and still others out of idle curiosity or some less tangible reason. In such cases an elementary course should be so constituted as to be interesting and profitable to the extent of adding to the student's general fund of knowledge even if he does not continue in the field. In other words the course should have more of a cultural than a purely technical value. As Gager states it in the preface to his "General Botany," "A subject has cultural value in proportion to the number of human contacts it gives the pupil, the extent to which it broadens his views and extends his interests and sympathies."
The field of applied science, dealing with the practical or economic aspects of a subject, lends itself much better to such treatment than does the field of pure science. This is particularly true of botany. From earliest time plants have been intimately bound up with human existence. Not only have they played an important part in the everyday life of mankind, but they have had a profound influence on the course of history and civilization. A knowledge of the industrial, medicinal, and edible plants cannot fail to broaden one's outlook.
Even though the value of including a considerable amount of economic material in a beginning course in botany may be recognized, the limitations of time or various curriculum requirements usually render such a procedure impracticable. It should be possible, however, to offer at least a half-year course devoted to economic plants as a supplement to the usual first year's work. Such a course would appeal to students in chemistry, economics, and other fields, as well as to those interested particularly in plant science. Moreover, such a course in economic botany ought to be valuable to the science itself. Botany, more than any other science, has suffered from a lack of interest and appreciation on the part of the average person. Any attempt to educate the layman as to the importance of plants cannot fail to be productive of some