Course Descriptions

Core Courses (100% Online)

Core Course descriptions are available on the Professional Development page.

Earth Expeditions Field Courses

Detailed course descriptions for each Earth Expeditions field course is available on our Earth Expeditions “Courses” webpage.

AIP Web+ Courses

Animal Behavior & Conservation – 3 graduate credits

This course provides a foundation for understanding ethological research methods that can be applied to promote animal welfare and wildlife conservation. The course involves a community -based research project and direct observation of diverse animal species in a variety of settings such as zoos, botanical gardens, parks, and more.

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. 

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. 

Ecophysiology – 3 graduate credits

Students 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 on such topics as the principles of ecophysiology, form and function of organismal adaptations, phenotypic and behavioral plasticity, and maintenance of homeostasis. Students 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. 

Environmental & Information Science Education – 3 graduate credits

Participants will explore strategies in Informal Science Education (ISE) and Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) programs that not only achieve educational goals but also result in positive environmental impacts. This course will include practical applications and hands-on approaches for conducting ISE and ESE with a wide range of audiences. Participants will explore current and recent historical environmental education research and will create an analytic review of literature related to an area of interest they identify. Putting their new knowledge to work, participants will complete an action research project and measure the impact of the project on their audience.

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.

Foundations of Inquiry – 3 graduate credits

This course engages students in exploring the scientific method and inquiry-based learning and teaching. Through devising investigations to answer questions and communicating results, participants experience the full process of inquiry and learn how to guide this process with their own students and in their own communities.

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 explorations of the characteristic vegetation and wildlife of biomes represented at this Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master Institution (MI) and current conservation issues relevant to each. 

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.

Habitats, Adaptations, & Evolution – 3 graduate credits

This course explores the biology and conservation of species and habitats. Students implement a research project and investigate how local environmental conditions shape species’ adaptations.  

Human Dimensions of Conservation – 3 graduate credits

Conserving wildlife is a complex endeavor that requires the integration of sound science from both the social and natural sciences. This course explores how social sciences can inform conservation. Students consider how current conservation issues can be addressed through an understanding of human thought and action. 

Plants & People – 3 graduate credits

This course explores the ecological roles of plants as well as the history of human-plant relationships (e.g., cultural context, ethnobotany, symbolism). Students implement a research project that engages their community in environmental action.

Primate Behavior & Conservation – 3 graduate credits

This course investigates primate behavior, research methods, and conservation. Through direct observations of prosimians, monkeys, and apes in zoological settings, students gain a comprehensive view of topics ranging from social structure to communication. 

Project Design & Assessment – 3 graduate credits

This course addresses 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.

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.