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UW Biology Book Club Autumn 2020

Newsletter issue:

Join UW Biology Book Club this autumn quarter as we read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book club is open to everyone in the department--undergraduates, graduates, post-docs, staff, and faculty! We will have two Zoom meetings to discuss the book during autumn quarter. This is a no-pressure book club; please join in the conversation even if you haven't read the book. Please email Sheryl Medrano ( for Zoom link to discussions.

Book Club Dates:

  • Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 1:30pm PST (Pages 1-174)
  • Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 1:30pm PST (Final half of book)

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). 

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass— offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.