Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Through the University of Tennessee's Transdisciplinary University Studies Program and integrative College Scholars and Honors Programs
I have been privileged to explore and develop curricular ideas in the company of unique undergraduates.
    Chancellor's Honors Seminar Series: The biology of art and aesthetic experience. An overview of CAUSES and CONSEQUENCES of art and aesthetic experience from a biological perspective. Reviews main ideas about consciousness and the role of art in culture. Emphasis on critical and creative thinking and the diversity of ways human needs can be expressed and met at different times of life and in different environments (last offered Fall 2008)

FYS 129
    PLEASURE is often regarded as an emotional experience. EMOTIONS are the outward indications of one of the key INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS of the nervous system, contributing to the balance and harmonious relations between necessary functions of the organism and between the organism and its environment. (last offered Fall 2008)
Univ Stud 310
    Biological Mythology: A Cultural History of Animals, Anatomy, and Physiology. This course was developed in the late 1980's but is still taught "on demand" when a sufficient number of students express interest. It provides depth in several fundamental concepts of biology and mythology by examining the manifest and latent meanings of biological phenomena in cultural context. ON DEMAND

Honors 348:
Deep Ecology
    "Deep ecology seeks to [focus] ... on deep experience, deep questioning and deep commitment. These constitute an interconnected system. Each gives rise to and supports the other, whilst the entire system is, what Naess would call, an ecosophy: an evolving but consistent philosophy of being, thinking and acting in the world, that embodies ecological wisdom and harmony." (
Univ Stud 411 / EEB 413:
    The biological causes and consequences of art and aesthetic experience. Art is a concept central to one of the most wholly human of our cultural endeavors, and yet one undeniably linked to, if not wholly emergent from, our basic biology. Art, like science, may be understood as one of the behavioral traits that characterizes our species. And like other traits, its causes and consequences may be illuminated by considering the ways in which it meets our biological needs. (Offered every spring 3 credits)

    Presentations by a diversity of life-science professionals. Topics of interest will be presented to undergraduates who wish to explore the ways that biological/medical research is relevant to them. We will explore the relationship of biology to other disciplines and the relevance of understanding research no matter what one's major may be. 1 credit. S/NC. May be repeated for credit. Presented every Fall and Spring.

    The causes and consequences of social behavior from the ethological perspectives. An exploration of the biological constraints and possibilities of behavior in various taxa, including humans. Assigned readings, independent and group projects, and sociobiologically informed essay critiques of popular literature. 3 credits, Spring or Summer

    Principles and methods of ethology: the developmental, ecological, evolutionary and physiological causes and consequences of behavior in diverse taxa. 3 credits, Fall

    Introduction to observational and experimental research in ethology. 3 credits, Fall [EEB/Psych 450 is a pre- or co-requisite, but 459 is NOT required of 450 students]

BIOL 307
Threshold Honors:
    Topics relevant to the conduct of biological research. It is based on the work of Threshold Faculty and senior Threshold Scholars, emphasizing the process of developing and presenting research ideas and establishing their intrinsic interest or social relevance; interdisciplinary connections are actively sought. On an opportunistic basis, presentations are made by distinguished visitors to relate the "realities" of life as creative researchers. 1 credit S/NC, Fall and Spring

    Learning is not restricted to the classroom ! students may earn credit toward graduation for approved off-campus SERVICE LEARNING experiences - Prior approval of a supervising faculty member and the Department is required. (Prerequisites: 1 year of life science and approval of the instructor. Biology core sequence (BIOL 130, 140, 240, 250 or 210, 220, 230) recommended. [Prior Permission of the UT Program Coordinator and the Off-Campus Host are required] 3 credits Fall, Spring, Summer

BIOL 397
Threshold Honors:
    A series of mini-courses to prepare you to participate more fully in active research laboratories and to prepare and communicate research findings. Presentations by faculty from various departments such as library, computer science, speech communications, journalism, and English. 3 credits, Fall

BIOL 398
Threshold Honors:
    Threshold Practicum involves a rotation through three to five research experiences in several participating laboratories. Each experience (module) is hosted by a faculty laboratory under the direct supervision of the laboratory director and is designed to familiarize students with the power and limitations of specific advanced approaches to research problems. You will initially be a member of a team of 3-5 members. Each module will guide you in your understanding and competence in the "principles and methodologies for collecting and analyzing experimental data" in a different major area of biology. 3-5 credits, Spring

BIOL 401
Threshold Honors:
    The culminating research experience of an honors program It involves full participation in the research, scholarly, or creative activities of a host laboratory or scholar in concert with written and oral presentation of your research findings. The SENIOR THESIS is one of the most significant papers undergraduates prepare and employs the full panoply of scholarly resources. 1 credit, Fall, Spring, Summer

    Individualized project-oriented off-campus work in a zoological or health-related professional setting become the basis for a scholarly proposal to conduct a specific research project. After experiencing a specific off-campus working environment, students will develop a research proposal in consultation with the instructor and the off-campus supervisor. There is the opportunity for great creativity provided that your project clearly demonstrates an extension of your skills as a biologist in the service of solving a problem of relevance to your off-campus host. 3 credits, Fall, Spring, Summer

EEB 504
"Special Topics"
    Any one of several individualized directed readings programs: (1) Social Ecology: readings in the historical cultural constraints and empowerments of ecologically-relevant initiatives in conservation, land use, and human-environment interactions. (2) Social Medicine: readings in the historical and cultural constraints and empowerments of health-relevant activities. (3) History and Philosophy of Biology: readings in the history and philosophical beliefs relevant to the pursuit of understanding and insight in biology. Each program of readings includes classic and recent theoretical readings relevant to the topic, involves weekly discussions with the instructor and culminates in an integrative paper and seminar presentation. 1-3 credits, S/NC. Fall, Spring, Summer / ON DEMAND

Readings and spirited discussion for advanced graduate students. Courses offered when critical mass for fruitful discussion is reached. Recent topics are:
EEB 609
spring 2007
    The classic and recent literature on STRESS in populations and individuals will be examined with a view towards insights it can provide in ECOLOGY and EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY. We will in particular look at the emerging literature on the adaptive incorporation of elements of the stress response into life history in both micro- and macro-evolutionary terms.
EEB 601
    As the taproots of disciplinary depth are nurtured, important relationships to adjacent disciplines are endangered -- this is a challenge we will confront head-on . Wilson (correctly) observes that interdisciplinarity has long been the operating style of scholars and researchers in the natural sciences. Our springboard will be EO Wilson's, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, In Wilson's argument for the general adoption of a consilient world view he touches on issues of central importance to individuals contemplating or living a life in science such as validity, relevance, and personal gratification and fulfillment.
    DEEP Ethology is the multidisciplinary approach to behavior that builds on insights that emerge from the accommodation of the ethos and investigative traditions of complementary biological sciences: Development, Ecology, Evolution, and Physiology. The central insights in each domain that provide the bases for constructing collaborative interdisciplinary connections will be reviewed. Several key models will be explored and new models sought.

Under development
    DEEP is an acronym for Development, Ecology, Evolution and Physiology -- the four constituent disciplines of a complete ethological approach to insight about the CAUSES and CONSEQUENCES of a specific behavioral pattern. The course emphasizes the COMPLEMENTARY NATURE of the HOLISTIC and REDUCTIONIST points of view by looking at the phenomenon from the specific perspectives of each of the several disciplines that converge on it, each with their respective levels of organization. Its profound INTERDISCIPLINARITY reflects the view that REAL LIFE is a profoundly interdisciplinary enterprise.
Under development
    Humankind has evolved in response to a world over which it had little if any control. In our effort to secure our place, CONTROL is shifting -- but are we as wise as nature? A survey of the diversity of human interactions with nature as represented in cultural and artistic creations, culminating with science.

Ten major themes that underlie and unite all scientific investigation are reviewed and analyzed in terms of science as a human endeavor. Each theme is explored in a separateSearch for Solutions video which becomes the platform for further investigations and extensions into cutting edge science, including programs in progress by faculty researchers at the University of Tennessee. HONORS/FALL

TEACHING INTERESTS, PHILOSOPHY, notes on service-learning in biology at UTK
publications on education and teaching

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Faculty, Graduate Programs in Ethology/Ecology
423/974-3599, F239 Walters Life Science