AIP Course Descriptions

Carnivores

Investigations of animal behavior comprise a rich field of study that began as a means to survival for early humans. It has now become a captivating field of scientific study in its own right. This course focuses on species in the order Carnivora. Students in this course investigate animal behavior through direct observation of the zoo’s diverse animal species to explore key questions about how and why species act the way they do in different situations. This course will provide a foundation for understanding ethological research methods and animal conservation issues that can be applied and adapted to increased understanding about animal welfare and wildlife conservation in local educational and community settings.

This is a Web+ course with interaction on-site and in Dragonfly’s web-based learning community.
 
Climate Change

Global warming is irrevocably altering our polar ice caps, our oceans, our forests, and the world’s plant and animal life. In this course, participants study the science of climate change, the diverse causes of climate change, and the impact of climate change at local, regional, and global scales. Topics include global warming’s effect on weather and climate, ice caps, deforestation, and species conservation. Because the public plays a central role in how the world responds to climate change, students also investigate the factors that guide public perception, ranging from media to social interaction. Students explore the effect of climate change specific to the biology of their local region and consider what actions they and their communities can take locally. Through project assignments and research, at the end of this course participants not only have a solid understanding of current issues surrounding climate change but will also have considered and developed strategies for taking action. This is a Miami University online course with experiential learning on-site at an affiliated Dragonfly Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) institution.

Course Code: BIO 638
Course Credits: 3
Online work and four class meetings
Fall term

Note: This course is offered every other year.

Course themes:

Graduate students in this course will:

·       Engage with each other and with experts in the field to investigate and interpret global climate change issues.

·       Critically analyze primary research on the causes, impacts, and proposed solutions to climate change.

·       Evaluate methods by which public perception is formed and consider and critique the polling process, including national and international media and social interaction.

        Gain an understanding of climate change and global warming as a field of study locally and assess how to apply the tools of conservation science in their own communities.

·       Engage in reflective and evaluative peer review in face-to-face environments and on the web to provide colleagues with personal insight, new perspectives or analyses, ideas for useful applications, and connections to other research and projects.

Environmental Stewardship In My Community

Students in this course investigate environmental stewardship, research science and conservation opportunities and solutions in their local communities, practice inquiry-based learning, develop a conservation project to be used in their classroom or community, and reflect on ecological and carbon footprints. At the end of this course, students will have a solid understanding of community-based conservation, with a particular emphasis on current issues facing local habitats in the communities where they live. Students will also explore and begin to design stewardship strategies for empowering their own students or community members to generate solutions and take action. This is a hybrid course with interaction on-site and in Dragonfly’s web-based learning community.

Course code: BIO 656
Course credit: 3
Online work, 2 class meetings, and volunteer work required
Fall term
Note: required course

Course Themes

Students in this course will:

·              Organize inquiry projects that drive learning in science and integrated topics.

·              Interpret the life sciences through conservation issues and current research being conducted in local communities to understand causes and impacts; critically analyzesolutions to these issues.

·              Explore and apply the principles of sustainability and community-based conservation.

·              Design strategies for engaging students or community members in local conservation action.

·               Employ community resources, including the AIP Master Institution environment, and outreach to create connections and use the network as a learning resource.

·              Engage in reflective and evaluative peer review in face-to-face environments and on the web to provide colleagues with personal insight, new perspectives or analyses, ideasfor useful applications, and connections to other research and projects.
 

Foundations of Inquiry

This course engages students in exploring the foundations of inquiry-based teaching and learning while students gain a new familiarity with Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master Institution (MI) facilities as informal science education settings. Through making observations on zoo grounds, developing comparative questions, devising investigations to answer those questions and communicating results, participants will experience the full process of inquiry and will learn how to guide this process with their own students and in their own communities. This type of first‐hand, experiential learning encourages independent and critical thing, increasing the communities’ awareness and concern for the local environment and its inhabitants. We will engage in activities that demonstrate the applications of inquiry in the classroom, on zoo grounds, in the schoolyard and other settings. We will discuss case studies that illustrate the use of inquiry to improve student learning and engage students as leaders in their communities. Through this course, students will develop the investigation, critical reflection, and collaboration skills needed to lead inquiry‐driven learning for diverse communities. They will learn to develop a comparative question, design an inquiry‐driven scientific study, and develop their skills in scientific writing and research. Students will come away with information and techniques for applying inquiry in classroom and informal education settings, developing inquiry skills and assessing inquiry-based learning that they can use in their own communities. This is a hybrid course with interaction on-site and in Dragonfly’s web-based learning community.

Course code: BIO 654
Course credit: 3
Online work and 4 class meetings
Summer term
Note: Required first course in AIP

Course Themes  

Students in this course will:

·              Construct an understanding of the nature of science, and investigate models of inquiry in the life sciences.

·              Assess and interpret existing research projects in the life sciences, e.g., on the structure, function, behavior and evolution of plants and animals.

·              Create and conduct their own field research projects by selecting research questions, making predictions, designing methodologies, exploring experimental design to takemeasurements/employing data collection strategies and analyze data to arrive at new understandings of their research topics; connect results to benefits to human and ecological communities

·              Engage in and design inquiry projects as a tool for participatory learning

·              Assess methods for evaluation when using inquiry-based approaches

·              Become familiar with Miami University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC); complete CITI ethical researchtraining prior to gathering data about humans, and complete AALAS ethical research training prior to gathering data about vertebrate animals

·              Employ community resources, including the AIP Master Institution environment, to create connections and use the network as a learning resource.

·              Engage in reflective and evaluative peer review in face-to-face environments and on the web to provide colleagues with personal insight, new perspectives or analyses, ideas for useful applications, and connections to other research and projects.

Independent Study

This is a credit/no credit course. This course provides AIP students with the opportunity to do intensive research on a topic or topics that directly contribute to the student’s Master Plan. Research may take the form of direct observations but must also include an extensive literature review. The final project includes an extensive written research paper and may include other product (short movie, website, multimedia presentation, etc.). This experience is intended to add depth and insight to the student’s master plan and the student is expected to take on significant responsibilities within the chosen independent study topic.

Course Code: BIO 677
Course Credits: 1 - 3
Online work and individual meetings as necessary
Any semester after completing Master Plan in Action

Course themes:

  • Think critically to research facts and solutions to real world issues
  • Conduct extensive research, synthesize information, and expand on the understanding of the topic
  • Reach novel and sound conclusions and ideas based on research information
  • Master research skills and develop a final synthesis product
Internship

This is a credit/no credit course. This course provides AIP students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with Zoo professionals and/or Community leaders on projects that directly contribute to the student’s Master Plan. This experience is intended to be pragmatic, and the student is expected to take on significant responsibilities within the chosen internship. The minimum work required is 90 hours for 2 credit course and 135 hours for 3 credit course. However, students must complete all hours required by internship institution.

Course Code:BIO 640
Course Credits: 2-3
Online work and individual meetings as necessary
Any semester after completing Master Plan in Action

Course themes:

  • Think critically to develop solutions to real world issues
  • Network and work collaboratively with professionals in their chosen fields
  • Explore career opportunities and develop a more informed plan for post-graduation success
  • Develop a unique set of skills that will enhance their Master Plan objectives
Great Lakes Ecosystems

This course requires local travel and a large amount of walking and step climbing.  Students must be able to meet this participation requirement.

The focus of this laboratory-based course is the study of the Great Lakes watershed area. It combines classroom work with field science inquiry and research. Course methods include investigations, lecture, discussion, individual and group projects, and selected readings.  Students investigate the history, geology, flora, fauna, varied ecosystems, and human influence on the Great Lakes area.

Course code: BIO 659
Course credit: 3
Online work and 4 class meeting
Summer Term

Course Themes:

  • Become familiar with the positive and negative human influences on the Great Lakes ecosystem, and understand the status of local stresses and water quality
  • Experience in observing, testing and describing current conditions of watershed waterways, and understand how watersheds function.
  • Gain insight into the history and formation of the Great Lakes area, and become familiar with the terrain in the greater Chicago area.
  • Become familiar with the native plant and animal species; observe and describe these species, and understand their status.
  • Understand local sewage treatment and its relationship to the Great Lakes area, and understand point and non-point source pollution.
Master Plan In Action

The AIP Master Plan (MP) represents a student’s ideas and areas of interest as those ideas relate to the student’s professional and community goals. By writing a Master Plan, students are able to focus their AIP journey and visualize the actions and steps that they might take toward completing their master’s degree. During this course with guidance and input from peers and the AIP Cohort advisor, students work on completing their Master Plans. This ensures that students have a workable plan to incorporate the projects they create as part of their AIP experiences into their professional and life goals. Students will also think about the common threads and program tenets among the projects in this cohesive body of work.

Course Code: BIO 655
Course Credits: 2
Online work and 3 class meetings
Summer term

Note: Required course.

Course Themes

  • Evaluate colleague’s Master Plans and project work, including conducting critical peer review, and respond to individual and peer discussion about their own Master Plan
  • Analyze the vision, focus, goals, actions and audience of intended Master Plan
  • Design a Master Plan to ensure community engagement is well represented in a student’s selected projects
  • Develop, expand and revise a focused research plan or social action strategy that includes a timeline for conducting anticipated projects
  • Determine what is to be accomplished by the end of the AIP degree program
Graduate Research: Book Discussion

This pass/fail course centers on the books, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn (1992) and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (2005/2011). These unique works focus on the tension between humankind and the Earth. While Quinn divides humankind into two simple groups, Takers and Leavers, Diamond holds a complex theory about causes of the success or failure of societies. Online discussion and class meetings allow the student to investigate their own beliefs about conservation theories, investigate local conservation examples, and examine their personal role (and barriers) in caring for the Earth.

Course Code: BIO 620
Course Credits: 1
Online work and two class meetings
Spring term

Course themes:

  • Increasing awareness of contemporary conservation issues
  • Developing an awareness of modern humankind’s effect on the Earth
  • Thinking critically and scientifically about environmental issues
  • Developing critical review skills when reading literature
Plants and People

As is evidenced by the schoolyard ecology movement, the popularity of Richard Louv's recent book Last Child In the Woods, and the large number of people enjoying outside activities, everyone is increasingly realizing the power of local environments to engage in powerful learning experiences. Join Brookfield Zoo in exploring the power of inquiry to generate knowledge and illuminate the relationships between plants and people. Interact with ecologists, botanists, and classmates, while developing great ideas for using natural and cultivated plant communities.

Course Code: BIO 695
Course Credits: 3
Online work and four class meetings
Fall term

Note: This course is offered every other year.

Course themes:

  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Relationships between plants and people
  • The use of wild and cultivated spaces in education
  • Methods of botanical investigations
  • Curricular development and educational leadership
Regional Ecology: Biodiversity of Northern Illinois

Through field-based experiences and in-class discussions, students will explore the rich diversity of ecosystems found in Northern Illinois and major conservation issues that threat their biodiversity. In-situ exploration of high-quality regional woods, wetland, and prairie provides insight into the interdependence and diversity among the Northern Illinois ecosystems and its biodiversity.

Course Code: BIO 657
3 credit hours
Summer class - 4 face-to-face days

Course Themes

  • Current issues for Northern Illinois wildlife and habitat conservation.
  • The interconnection between and the diversity in the local ecosystems.
  • Observing, testing and describing current regional conditions.
  • Insight into the history and formation of Northern Illinois ecosystems.
  • Understand the status of local stresses on Northern Illinois ecosystems.
  • Hands-on experience in collecting, observing, and describing conditions in regional ecosystems.
  • Understand the negative and positive impacts of people on the landscape.