Project Dragonfly - an AZA Learning Partner

Miami University’s Project Dragonfly has partnered with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to help expand AZA’s professional development opportunities. Project Dragonfly has been designated an official AZA Learning Partner, which means that some Dragonfly graduate courses qualify as electives for one or more concentrations in the AZA Professional Development Certificate Program. The AZA Certificate Program organizes training opportunities into concentrations, such as behavioral husbandry, conservation and research, and education and interpretation. 

Which Dragonfly courses count toward an AZA Certificate?

A complete listing of all Dragonfly courses that count toward an AZA Certificate may be found below.  Spring 2015 courses which count toward an AZA Certificate are:

Issues in Biodiversity • 2 graduate credits – Occurs entirely on the Web
Barrow's Lecture Series Seminar • 1 graduate credit – Occurs on the Web and at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Book Discussion • 1 graduate credit – Occurs on the Web and at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Current Topics in Inquiry • 1 graduate credit – Occurs on the Web and at the Phoenix Zoo
Bioinspiration • 1 graduate credit – Occurs on the Web and at San Diego Zoo Global
Global Biomes • 1 graduate credit – Occurs on the Web and at the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

The application is also currently open for Earth Expeditions' global field courses, all of which count toward an AZA certificate. The Earth Expeditions application is due January 28, 2015.

Please scroll down to view course descriptions.  To register for a Spring 2015 course, please contact Connie Malone at malonecm@miamioh.edu.

To have a Project Dragonfly graduate course count toward the AZA Certificate Program, visit www.aza.org/certificate.aspx for more information and to enroll in the program. Email AZA Professional Development Manager Amy Rutherford at azatraining@aza.org with any questions.  You may also read more about the AZA Certificate Program by visiting http://www.aza.org/LPFeature.aspx.

Where are the Project Dragonfly Certificate courses located?

Below is a complete listing of the Dragonfly graduate courses that count toward an AZA Certificate.  Please note that course participants may be degree-seeking students in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) or the Global Field Program (GFP), or they may be students who are not pursuing a master’s degree but are interested in the topic. Enrollment is open to applicants with a bachelor’s degree regardless of academic major or profession. All courses are taken for university credit. The number of elective credits awarded for each course as part of the AZA certificate program will vary based on course length.

Zoo-based courses combine work in a web-based learning community with coursework in one of eight U.S. cities at institutions that offer Dragonfly’s Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree.

Global Earth Expeditions courses combine work in a web-based learning community with coursework at conservation sites around the world. Students taking these courses may reside anywhere in the world.  All Earth Expeditions courses count toward an AZA certificate. The Earth Expeditions application is due January 28, 2015.

Web-based courses occur entirely on the web. Students taking these courses may reside anywhere in the world.


ZOO-BASED COURSES

Zoo-based courses combine work in a web-based learning community and face-to-face coursework at one of eight U.S. zoos.  Students taking these courses should reside near one of the following zoos:

Chicago: Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo
Cincinnati: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
ClevelandCleveland Metroparks Zoo
Denver: Denver Zoo
New York: Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo
Phoenix: Phoenix Zoo
San Diego: San Diego Zoo Global
Seattle: Woodland Park Zoo

Contact individual institutions for additional course details and specific start dates.

Foundations of Inquiry • 3 graduate credits

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.

Offered at Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Phoenix Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.

Animal Behavior & Conservation • 3 graduate credits

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. Invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other animals are ideal for comparative observational studies on topics ranging from complex behaviors and adaptations to public engagement with conservation. 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. 

Offered at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, and Phoenix Zoo.

Habitats, Adaptations, & Evolution • 3 graduate credits

From the dance of honeybees to the feeding strategies of Komodo dragons, zoo settings are ideal places to explore habitat selection, adaptations and evolutionary theory. Students draw from animal and plant varieties on-site at one of a number of Master Institutions throughout the country to explore key questions about why species look and act the way they do. The course also takes a look at the implications of evolution for species survival in modern times. Students investigate the conceptual basis of the life sciences and implement vital lessons in educational settings at their home institutions. Students complete a semester-long research project to explore habitats, evolutionary theory and adaptation; they create research questions which can also cover individual classroom goals, district goals, state or national standards or goals in other work settings.

Offered at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.

Primate Behavior & Conservation • 3 graduate credits

Graduate students in this course investigate primate conservation and behavior through direct observation of prosimians, monkeys, and apes. Primates have long fascinated us as a remarkable group in their own right, and for the clues they can shed on our own behavior and cultures. Tarsiers, tamarins, macaques, leaf monkeys, gibbons, chimps, gorillas, and other primates are ideal for comparative studies on topics ranging from social structure to communication. This course will provide a foundation for understanding research methods and conservation issues. We will also examine how course topics can be applied and adapted to teaching in local educational settings.Students will complete a semester-long research project to investigate primate conservation and behavior through direct observation of prosimians, monkeys, and apes within a zoo setting.

Offered at Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.

Plants & People • 3 graduate credits

As evidenced by the schoolyard ecology movement, educators increasingly realize the power of local environments to engage students in powerful learning experiences that cannot be duplicated in the classroom. Join an emerging, vital conversation about the role of nature in child development and learning, with a particular focus on plants and their use in education. Interact with ecologists, botanists, and classmates, while developing great ideas for using natural and cultivated plant communities in educational programs. Students will complete a semester-long research project to explore emerging, vital conversation about the role of nature in human development and learning, with a particular focus on plants and their use in education; generate knowledge and illuminate the relationship between plants and people.

Offered at Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo.

Environmental Stewardship in My Community • 3 graduate credits

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.

Offered at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Chicago Zoological Society- Brookfield Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, San Diego Zoo Global, and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.

Climate Change • 3 graduate credits

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. 

Offered at Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo.

Great Lakes Ecosystems • 3 graduate credits

The focus of this course is the study of the biology of the Great Lakes watershed, combining classroom work with field science inquiry and research. In addition to exploring the general function of watersheds, students become familiar with historical and contemporary human influences on ecosystems within the watershed basin, and they discuss and understand negative human impacts including point and non-point source pollution, multiple-stressors, “urban stream syndrome,” and local sewage treatment and its relationship to the basin. Students gain skills observing and describing biotic and abiotic characteristics of area watershed ecosystems and understand the status of threatened and endangered species in the watershed basin.

Offered at Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo.

Regional Ecology • 3 graduate credits

Through both zoo-based and field-based experiences, this course explores regional wildlife conservation issues, as well as field investigation techniques that scientists and citizens can use to study and conserve local ecoregions and wildlife. Students will be exposed to observational and experimental approaches and will practice field investigation techniques that can provide rigorous, engaging inquiry experiences for students. Student-conducted investigations will be used to contribute to local ecological knowledge by describing natural systems, noting differences in habitats, and identifying environmental trends and issues. This course focuses on different ecoregions in the area and highlights different conservation issues or themes based on that ecoregion.

Offered at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle and San Diego Zoo Global.

Ecophysiology: Biomimicry • 3 graduate credits

Humans and wildlife both face the same environmental challenges, but nature adapts to its situations in sustainable ways. Biomimicry is a revolutionary new science that seeks out nature’s best practices and adapts those designs for human use. Participants in this course will explore the ways in which humans can (and do) emulate systems and designs found in nature to create materials, medicines, social systems, computers and so much more. Students will fine tune their observation skills and complete a design challenge using nature as their guide. Through this course, students will develop their observation and collaboration skills and will acquire research experience in the Life Sciences, e.g., on such topics as the principles of ecophysiology, form and function of organismal adaptations, phenotypic and behavioral plasticity, and maintenance of homeostasis. They will think critically and scientifically about the ways in which nature can benefit humankind through technological inspiration and solutions to environmental problems. Students will apply what they have learned as they develop curricula and create design challenges for professional use.

Offered at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Global Biomes • 3 graduate credits

A bioclimatic zone, or biome, is a region broadly defined by the relationship between and among an area’s temperature patterns, annual precipitation and living organisms. This course will introduce the biomes of the world through zoo-based explorations of the characteristic vegetation and wildlife of biomes represented at the zoo. Students will investigate climate patterns and plant and animal adaptations characteristic of different biomes. They also explore the current research and conservation issues relevant to each biome and community-based conservation solutions and opportunities for involvement.

Offered at Denver Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

Conservation Research at Living Collection Institutions • 3 graduate credits

This course provides students with an overview of conservation research conducted in zoological, reserve, aquaria and other ex situ settings. Students will explore key science concepts within the contexts of wildlife conservation, the imperative of in-situ conservation, the multi-disciplinary nature of science, and hands-on conservation research. Participants will learn about current research in the fields of genetics, reproductive physiology, disease diagnostics, ecology, and animal behavior. Course themes explore sustainable population maintenance, wildlife health, bioresource banking, restoration ecology, reintroduction biology, and the role of zoos, reserves and aquaria in conservation.

Offered at San Diego Zoo Global and Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

Project Design & Assessment • 3 graduate credits

This course instructs students about one of the most important scientific endeavors: evaluation to indicate whether their own work or the work of others is showing a trend and, thus, having an impact. The course is focused on two main sets of evaluation, natural science and social science studies. The course will review statistical thinking and discuss how to construct successful studies that will open students to accurate and effective evaluation. We will discuss how to choose between different statistical tests and the consequences for their experimental design. Students will be engaged in the different ways researchers and others apply statistics to natural science and social science studies. Students conducting social science research will determine whether to conduct qualitative or quantitative studies and will parse out the differences and values of each approach.

Offered at San Diego Zoo Global

Graduate Research

Barrow's Lecture Series Seminar • 1 graduate credit – Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. This graduate seminar centers around a series of talks given at the zoo by internationally renowned conservationists, explorers, and scientists. This series focuses on presenting current conservation and wildlife issues to diverse Tri-State audiences, and uses stories of global proportion to inspire local action. This seminar course borrows from the inspiration and expertise of these dedicated individuals to help graduate students develop the skills they need to read and critically interpret primary scientific literature, and to evaluate how professionals in the conservation field turn the content of these readings into inspirational public lectures. Specifically, this course will focus on the Communicate component of the scientific method, notably public discourse. Students develop the ability to locate, read and critically review primary scientific literature, including methods, results, and data interpretations. Through guided and peer discussion, students will learn techniques for researching pertinent scientific topics that complement the content in their own classrooms. Lastly, students will leave knowing how to develop their own scientifically rigorous presentations that are both exciting and inspirational to their students and the general public.

Book Discussion: Global Connections • 1 graduate credit – Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  This seminar brings to light current global environmental issues and addresses the way in which human activity effects the earth. The driving force for this course will be peer discussion of a selected book as well as peer-reviewed articles relative to changing discussion topics.  Five two-week discussions will take place focusing on the assigned readings and covering the following topics:
• Preserving Our Past and Our Future
• Global Consequences
• Impacts on Land
• Impacts on Water
• Being a Catalyst for Change

Current Topics in Inquiry • 1 graduate credit – Phoenix Zoo.

Bioinspiration • 1 graduate credit – San Diego Zoo Global.

Global Biomes • 1 graduate credit – Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. Bioclimatic zones, or biomes, are regions broadly defined by the relationship of an area’s temperature patterns to its annual precipitation and living organisms. This course will introduce the biomes of the world through zoo-based explorations of the characteristic vegetation and wildlife of biomes represented at the zoo and the current conservation issues relevant to each.


GLOBAL EARTH EXPEDITIONS COURSES

Global Earth Expedition courses combine work in a web-based learning community and face-to-face coursework at conservation hotspots in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas.  All Earth Expeditions courses count toward an AZA certificate. The Earth Expeditions application is due January 28, 2015.

Namibia: Great Cat Conservation

Kenya: Wildlife & People in Integrated Landscapes

Mongolia: Steppe Ecology & Civic Media

Hawai'i: Saving Species

Borneo: Primate Conservation

Guyana: Local Wisdom & Conservation

Baja: Field Methods

Belize: Approaches to Environmental Stewardship

Australia: Great Barrier Reef

Costa Rica: Neotropical Ecology

Amazon: Avian & Tropical Ecology

India: Species, Deities & Communities

Thailand: Buddhism & Conservation


WEB-BASED COURSES

Web-based courses occur entirely on the web and can be taken from any computer with internet access.

Issues in Biodiversity • 2 graduate credits

Issues in Biodiversity (IBD) is a graduate seminar covering current and foundational issues in biodiversity. The seminar will focus on the forces that create and sustain biodiversity, patterns of biodiversity of time and space, and human impacts on biodiversity, with specific topics suited to the current state of the field. Here, AIP and GFP students have a chance to discuss and learn new ideas and information about current and foundational issues in biodiversity. Students gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of issues affecting biodiversity while discussing novel and classical concepts in the field of biodiversity conservation. Students become familiar with scientific readings while participating in active group discussion, and in small groups will lead discussion surrounding a theme.  Additionally, students will produce a well-researched lesson plan, synthesis paper, or community engagement lab that addresses one of the themes of this course. 

Offered entirely on the web.

FUTURE AZA CERTIFICATE COURSES

Project Dragonfly graduate courses currently in development that will count toward the AZA Certificate Program:

·      The Impact of Zoo and Non-Formal Education 3 graduate credits - Phoenix Zoo

·      Graduate Research: Human Dimensions in Conservation 2 graduate credits - San Diego Zoo Global

·      Graduate Research: Issues in Conservation 1 graduate credit – Cleveland Metroparks Zoo


For information about Dragonfly’s Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree, see http://aip.miamioh.edu/.

Zoo and aquarium professionals looking for additional training opportunities may visit the AZA’s website to learn more about additional courses, webinars, and conferences at http://www.aza.org/professional-development/.