Graduate Courses

Why not make the Zoo (or the world) your campus?

Zoo Expedition Courses

Zoo Expeditions (ZE) are graduate courses taught on grounds at the Zoo, accredited by Miami University (Oxford). Through a partnership with Project Dragonfly, we proudly bring you exciting, inquiry-driven topics ranging from animal behavior and plant ecology to evolution.

This suite of courses merge the academic expertise of Miami University’s Project Dragonfly with the world-class wildlife conservation expertise of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  Classes offer participants the opportunity to develop inquiry-based learning skills and provide them with exciting course content in a variety of subject areas. These courses are designed for both certified K-12 teachers and non-traditional educators or professionals working in the natural sciences.

Current courses include:

Summer 2015 – Register from March 1st-30th

  • Issues in Cincinnati Conservation: This course focuses on conservation issues currently facing the Cincinnati-Tri-State area, and will allow participants to design their own conservation-focused inquiry projects. Zoo Expedition students will also get the opportunity to interact with professional conservation biologists working on Zoo grounds!  (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)

Fall 2015 – Register from June 1st-30th

  • Plants & People: Students in this course examine the deep human connection to plants, the importance of nature and natural places to child development, and plant ecology & conservation – all while surrounded by thousands of species of plants. (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)
  • Animal Behavior & Conservation: This course provides students with a wealth of content on animal behavior and conservation, while giving them the opportunity to study the Zoo’s diversity of animal species. (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)
  • Habitats, Evolution, & Adaptations: In this course, Zoo Expedition participants learn about the relationships of plants and animals to their surroundings, and the adaptations they have evolved to survive and flourish. (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)

Spring 2016 – Register from October 1st-31st   

  • Barrows Conservation Lecture Seminar: Our spring graduate seminar centers around the Zoo’s popular Barrows Conservation Lecture Series. This course gives you the chance to learn about global conservation efforts and attend 4-5 lectures led by world famous researchers, conservationists, explorers, and teachers. (1 credit – online work & four to five lectures in-person, typically on Wednesday evenings)


Registration is a TWO step process (note the above “open” registration dates):

  1. First, register through Miami University:
    1. Summer
    2. Fall
    3. Spring
  2. Then, register for the course also through the Zoo.

Your placement in the course is not confirmed until you have completed both registrations.  There are separate fees for each step, and you will be asked for immediate payment information (credit card) for the Zoo’s portion of the fees.  Your fees for Miami will be due to the Miami Bursar separately, typically required in full by the time of the course start date.   Information about Miami’s fee payment can be located on their website after you have received your login information for your MyMiami online account.

NOTE:  Foundations of Inquiry, Master Plan in Action, Internship, and Independent Study courses (which you may see listed during registration) are only open to AIP graduate students.  All students must have approval before registering for an Internship or Independent Study.

The Zoo Expedition Difference

By getting involved with Zoo Expeditions, you will find yourself surrounded by interesting questions that you are excited to answer! Together with their own students, previous Zoo Expedition participants have compared the activity of wild cats and house cats. They’ve wondered who plays more: gorillas or first graders. They’ve even explored whether caring for a plant can change how students care for their school, and more! These courses provide current content in each of the three course areas while providing educators with the skills they need to reach their students through scientific inquiry.

Taught by instructors from the Zoo, Miami University, program alumni, and community experts, each course includes traditional lecture, discussion seminars, group work, and direct investigation of the Zoo’s wealth of animal and plant life. In addition to the face-to-face experiences at the Zoo, participants also engage weekly throughout the semester with instructors and course peers in an easy-to-use, web-based learning community to discuss assignments, course readings, and semester-long research projects.

More Info?

Please contact Jerran Orwig, Advanced Inquiry Program Manager, if you have any questions about the program and/or registration process:

Earth Expeditions

Earth Expeditions (EE) is a groundbreaking program co-founded in 2004 by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Miami P1010107-300x225University’s Project Dragonfly.  Through Earth Expeditions courses, our mission is to build an alliance of individuals with first-hand knowledge of inquiry-driven, community-based learning for the benefit of ecological communities, student achievement, and global understanding.  In the early years, the program began with field expeditions to Namibia, Costa Rica, and Trinidad.  Our suite of offerings has dramatically expanded to now also include EEs to Hawai’i, Baja, Australia, Mongolia, India, Guyana, Borneo, Amazon, Thailand, Belize, and Kenya.

Travel to pivotal hotspots worldwide to engage in inquiry and action projects while developing new approaches to address the vital issues of our time. Build relationships with leading educators, community leaders, and conservationists from around the world.

Earth Expeditions are 7-credit hour graduate courses accredited by Miami University and are  led by CZBG instructors, Miami staff, and experienced faculty from across the globe.  From home or work, all students collaborate with faculty and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops, an easy-to-use web-based learning community created by Project Dragonfly. Students worldwide discuss assignments, develop projects, and exchange ideas throughout the fall semester. To learn more about this unique Web experience, visit

Who’s Eligible?

Earth Expeditions courses are open to K-12 teachers, graduate students, school administrators, university faculty as well as adults from non-school settings such as environmental centers, businesses, youth programs, parks, museums or zoos. Applicants must be 18 years old or older and have a bachelor’s degree.  The Earth Expeditions Selection Committee — dedicated to creating diverse Earth Expeditions groups — looks for new, mid-career, and senior professionals, educators, and administrators from a broad range of disciplines, backgrounds, and educational settings.

How to Apply and More Information

All spots in our 2015 summer course schedule have now been filled, but applications for 2016 Earth Expedition courses will be accepted from September 2015 until January 28, 2016. For more information or to be placed on our mailing list, visit