What is Biomimicry?
Biomimicry is a type of biological science that studies the functional aspects of our natural world, and applies them to the challenges we face as humans. Plants and animals have evolved over millions of years to develop various defenses and advantages – and there’s a lot we can learn from them. With nature as our inspiration, we’ve been able to make big advances in engineering, product design, regional planning, and more – all thanks to the study of biomimicry.
Here are some examples of biomimicry from our everyday life.
Technological advancement and technological thinking has taken us a long way, especially in the past 100 years. But so has Mother Nature – and she’s had a lot more time. The natural world around us has developed reliable mechanisms and solutions over millions of years, through evolution. By studying these natural processes, we can uncover new solutions that have passed the test of time.
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Getting a Biomimicry Degree
A biomimicry degree explores the many connections between our natural world and what we plan, design, and build as humans. By studying biomimicry, you’ll investigate and seek to understand how nature and it’s many plants and animals work, how they evolved, and what we can borrow and apply to contemporary challenges. This means studying organisms as small as bacteria, and entire ecologies filled with numerous plants and animals.
Your previous work and educational experience could be rooted in anything from biology to engineering to business to design. The emerging study of biomimicry will build on your relevant experience. Depending on the program you choose, you could be taking part in projects, doing research, covering heavy amounts of theory, or writing a thesis. Most likely it will be a combination of some or all.
After completing a degree in biomimicry, you’ll work to solve the challenges of today, including how businesses are run, how our cities are planned and built, how our kids are educated, how our healthcare system operates, and more. Upon graduating with a degree in biomimicry, your skills and knowledge will be widely sought after from the private sector, government, and non-profit world.
Where to Study Biomimicry
Typically taught at the Masters degree level, biomimicry as a field of study is interdisciplinary. While the course curriculum of a biomimicry degree will vary from program to program, there seems to be a common base. Along with learning how the natural world evolves, you’ll study areas of biology, earth science, chemistry, sustainability, design thinking, and more.
Here are some of the schools today that are offering biomimicry degrees:
- Arizona State University: Master of Science in Biomimicry
Offered as an online program, a Master of Science in Biomimicry from ASU will “explore the connection between biological principles and design”. Graduate students will learn from the successes of evolution, and apply what they learn to our contemporary challenges.
Some of the core courses offered as part of this program include: ‘Life’s Principles’, ‘Biomimicry Thinking’, and ‘Biology Taught Functionally’.
- University of Akron: Undergraduate Certificate in Biomimicry
This undergraduate program offered by the University of Akron (in Ohio) is open to students of all majors, and trains them to “seek inspiration from living systems to solve technical challenges”.
Some of the courses in this program include ‘Technology-Based Startups’, ‘Biomimicry Design Challenge’, ‘Physics of Living Systems’, and more.
- Utrecht University: Bio Inspired Innovation (Master’s)
This two-year program at Utrecht University in the Netherlands combines research, innovation and design. Their major research project focuses on one theme of your choice, among these options: Fungal Biology, Ecology, Molecular Plant Physiology, or Plant Eco Physiology. Internships, lab work, data analysis, and scientific reading and writing are also a part of the program.
While there aren’t many programs out there that offer degrees strictly related to biomimicry, or that include ‘biomimicry’ in their program names, there are still plenty of options. Many schools offer very closely related programs at every level for environmental science, natural resources, sustainability, and more.
The field of biomimicry has not been around long, and the growth has been slow and steady, but there’s no doubt that its applications for environmental sciences, engineering, and design are looking promising.
We hope this article has helped you in your journey of learning more about biomimicry and your educational options.
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