Director of Biosphere 2 Faculty Innovative Teaching Fellows program - Kevin Bonine is a UArizona faculty member (Professor in School of Natural Resources and the Environment) and serves as Director of Education at Biosphere 2 and Director for Education for AIRES - Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies (the re-envisioned and re-launched UA Institute of the Environment). He believes in the power of effective education and environmental protection to improve the quality of life for all. In practice, this includes connecting across silos, boundaries, and disciplines while engaging students in immersive, experiential opportunities. UArizona courses he has taught include Herpetology, Conservation Biology, Environmental Biology, Introductory Organismal Biology (ECOL182), Vertebrate Physiology, and field courses in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) and Sonoran Desert Sky Island Region (Arizona & Sonora, Mexico). At Biosphere 2, he helps design learning experiences for 100,000 annual visitors and 10,000 K-12 school children, offers teacher professional development, and facilitates residential research internships and other university student engagement - including internships and employment. Kevin is on the board of trustees of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and enjoys studying Gila monsters in his spare time. His degrees: BS, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; BA, Economics; MS, Zoology; PhD, Evolutionary Physiology.
Biosphere 2 Faculty Innovative Teaching (FIT) Fellowship
A program to match UArizona faculty and students in all disciplines with the world-class facilities and projects at Biosphere 2, the Biosphere 2 Innovative Faculty Teaching Fellowship awards up to $2,500 each year to selected faculty at the University of Arizona.
What is “B2”?
Biosphere 2, owned by UArizona since 2011, is operated as an integrated system of systems, including original (i.e., Tropical Rainforest, Ocean, and Desert) and newly (i.e., Landscape Evolution Observatory [LEO], Agrivoltaics, Space Analog for the Moon and Mars [SAM], Freight Farms grow container) engineered systems. These systems were designed with parallels to external human- natural systems and can be used to engage students in conceptual, data-centered, and hands-on activities. Systems-thinking approaches that motivated the system designs are well documented and are leveraged in large-scale experimentation. Data are continuously collected from a number of the systems and historical and campaign-based data sets are also available. Possibilities also exist to visit and design hands-on activities for students in each system or for Biosphere 2 as a whole. These approaches have been used in teaching activities in the past. Other approaches have utilized place-based, inspirational, and/or extra-terrestrial motivations.
What are Biosphere 2 Faculty Innovative Teaching Fellowships?
To better connect Biosphere 2 opportunities to UArizona students, Biosphere 2 is seeking proposals for UArizona faculty to join the B2 Innovative Teaching Fellows Program and to include Biosphere 2 in their existing courses or in development of new courses or sections. UArizona faculty from across all colleges representing diverse disciplines, career stages, and diversity of backgrounds and perspectives are encouraged to apply. Proposals need to integrate the science, creative humanities, arts, and/or design aspects of Biosphere 2, including, but not limited to, utilizing data-sets and research projects ongoing within the various habitats; engaging with the human history of confined or controlled ecosystems; focusing on the aesthetic and design implications of B2; and imagining how Biosphere 2 can be a catalyst for a more equitable and resilient future for all species and systems.
Course-engagement proposals within the priority education areas of general education (GenEd), Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies (AIRES), Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP), Arizona Online, UA Global, and other high-value and synergistic UArizona initiatives are also encouraged. While undergraduate courses will be prioritized, co-convened undergraduate and graduate courses and full graduate courses will also be considered. Priority will be given to proposals that modify or develop courses that will continue to be offered past the initial Teaching Fellows program period.
The 2022-2023 cohort of Biosphere 2 Innovative Teaching Fellows will be active for 9-12 months from fall 2022 through summer 2023. Review of applications will begin in late November 2022. Successful faculty fellows will be notified by the end of the fall semester. Teaching Fellow incentives include up to $2500 in funding for course or teaching-related expenses – including supplies, transportation, printing, etc. Short, residential courses (e.g., for winter session or summer presession) are also a model of interest for engaging students. Additional Faculty Fellow roles also include development of short video or virtual modules for broader use, recruitment and selection of the subsequent teaching-fellows cohort, and participation in strategic Biosphere 2 education planning.
Who can apply?
This program is open to all University of Arizona faculty (excluding graduate students and most post-doctoral), including part-time and full-time instructors, at all ranks: tenured and tenure- line; affiliate; clinical; career-track; adjunct; visiting; research; practice; extension; retired; designated campus colleagues; and continuing status. As well, professional administrative staff whose jobs involve at least a 50% component focused on instructional design, delivery, and/or assessment are also eligible to apply. If there are any questions about faculty or staff eligibility, please contact Kevin Bonine (Biosphere 2 Director of Education, email@example.com).
What might the projects look like and what are the program expectations?
One recent student team project (which preceded this program) compared the B2 rainforest to natural tropical rainforests and seasonal forests using Whittaker plots to assess which forest type is more comparable to B2. The team then used this information to assess the forest productivity and patterns of carbon storage in light of climate change. Another inspiration might come from a geography doctoral student who, a few years ago, had poets and writers stationed in the different B2 habitats to generate new work about the facility and its history, along with assessment of visitor interactions with the writers.
Biosphere 2’s different habitats, experiments, partners, and history offer unique opportunities to shape courses in multiple fields. The possibilities really are wide open.
Courses should be designed to be sustainable and repeatable. They should also be student-centered, inclusive, and engage in a diverse community of practice approach which emphasizes interactions for shared goals and passions.
What is the timeline? 2022 Timeline:
Announcement of Program (October)
Applications (Reviews begin mid November)
Announcement of Awards no later than last day of semester contract period (December)
Curriculum Development (Course/Modules) in UArizona syllabus format
Plan for endurance of course beyond the initial offering to include course materials and
Development of course/project outreach and promotional materials. Some possibilities include a video
about the project for posting on the B2 FIT Fellows website as well as other content that can be used for education/outreach.
i. Showcase – Mini-conference wrap up 1. Abstract compilation
2. Video library
3. With instructional support materials d. Service Component
i. Outreach/Engagement Activity with Biosphere 2 in some capacity to include social media ii. Attendance in meetings with other FIT Fellows
iii. Participation in peer materials critique and improvement iv. Engagement with Biosphere 2 events
v. Improving application process; review next cohorts’ applications, select next cohort
vi. Continued engagement as a Fellow and Mentor in the subsequent years – to develop a
network of Innovative Biosphere 2 Teaching Fellows
Plan of work
i. Timeline and Deliverables
Duration: 9-12 months, including intentional overlap with next cohort; execution of curriculum can be
added onto next cohort – as well as access to teaching support funds as appropriate and available.
How do I apply?
Pitching your student engagement idea... It should be exciting, tie to specific B2 research system or other B2 facility/motivation, and create new curriculum or adapt previously created curriculum to build on unique and world-class attributes of B2.
via Qualtrics link available at B2 FIT Fellows website.
We recommend contacting Kevin Bonine, director of the Innovative Faculty Fellowship program to discuss
your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Applications will be reviewed beginning mid November – Please touch on your proposed timeline, note the number and kinds of students to be engaged, and the address the depth of their engagement. Selected fellows may then 1) require a letter of support from a B2 biome director/lead and 2) be asked to address any instructional costs including logistical or travel budgets. Please also comment on the future sustainability of teaching the course and/or what is the new class number that will be designated to include B2 activities. Review of Applications will begin in mid November 2022.
To rephrase and extend the above, top applications will include:
Please share how your course aligns to B2 topics, research, goals, and resources.
Explain what the student learning potential is by engaging with B2.
What sort of student activities/experiences are you interested in designing?
Share how your course activities will connect local, place-based, and/or cultural context via the B2
ecosystems and facility.