Archive: Detroit Zoo, Miami University Announce Innovative Miami Master’s Degree

September 8, 2022

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and Miami University have announced the launch of a conservation-focused online master’s degree through Miami University. The degree will offer experiential learning locally through the Detroit Zoo.

Created for working professionals, the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a one-of-a-kind master’s program that immerses students in collaborative inquiry and action as they champion change. Through web-based coursework from Miami and face-to-face experiential learning and field study at the Detroit Zoo, students will connect with classmates, Miami University faculty, DZS experts, and community leaders locally, nationally, and globally.

The application will open in early September at for the first Detroit cohort, which will begin coursework in summer 2023.

Adult learners in the Detroit area will be able to earn their master’s degree part-time by taking Miami coursework online and also engaging in experiential learning and field study on Zoo grounds, at the Belle Isle Nature Center, and with conservation education organizations throughout the Detroit area. Students will connect firsthand with the DZS’s renowned conservation, sustainability, and education programs while improving their local neighborhoods through collaborative learning and action.

The AIP master’s degree, created in 2009 by Project Dragonfly at Miami University, brings together premier zoos, gardens, and other community learning organizations from across the country. The Detroit Zoo is the AIP’s first site in Michigan. At the Detroit Zoo, students will work with researchers, join field projects with local conservation and sustainability organizations, and design hands-on investigations. Students will learn about conservation directly from experts and work together to develop new approaches to local conservation efforts.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this program,” said Diane Miller, vice president of educational programming for the DZS. “We believe this collaboration with Miami University will allow a new generation of conservationists to learn the latest conservation and education practices, while taking a lead for environmental action in their own communities.”

AIP students will have the option to take one of Project Dragonfly’s Earth Expeditions courses to apply toward their Miami master’s degree. These international field courses offer extraordinary learning experiences at conservation and education hotspots in Africa, Asia, Australia, and throughout the Americas. Students explore topics such as eco-leadership in Paraguay, golden lion tamarins in Brazil, and Buddhism and conservation in Thailand.

The DZS joins the following U.S. organizations as an AIP site:

  • Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Denver Zoo
  • Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
  • Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  • San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
  • Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo, New York
  • Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome our newest AIP site and first cohort with Miami students in Michigan,” said Lynne Myers, co-director and founder of Project Dragonfly. “With over four million people in the Detroit metro area and critical environmental issues like ensuring access to safe drinking water in the region, this is a great opportunity to improve environmental education and social justice.”

About Project Dragonfly – Since it began as a project funded by the National Science Foundation in the mid-1990s, Project Dragonfly has engaged millions of people through inquiry-driven learning media, public exhibits, and graduate programs worldwide. Dragonfly is based in the biology department at Miami University.

About Miami University – Founded in 1809, Miami University bears the name of the Myaamia people whose homelands are located in Ohio’s Miami Valley. Miami is ranked No. 46 nationally among public universities in “Best Colleges 2021” by U.S. News & World Report and is recognized as one of the eight original Public Ivies.