Intentional course design, application of knowledge, and promoting productive discovery: these are the elements that define my teaching philosophy and implementation. I integrate my research expertise in wildlife, plants, and their interactions into my teaching, employ a variety of pedagogies to achieve student learning outcomes, and embrace the unique aspects of my joint appointment in two different colleges at the University of Tennessee to synergistically enhance student knowledge and career preparation.

Climate Change: Who Cares?
University Honors (UNHO) 101

This is a 1-credit hour discussion course I teach in the Fall semester as part of the University of Tennessee’s Chancellor’s Honors Program. Dr. Kwit last taught this class in Fall 2013.

Course Description

Climate change is a phenomenon that directly and indirectly impacts the daily lives of most people on the planet. The course is structured in a fashion that allows students to understand the biological principles and evidence underlying the claims of climate change, recognize of the impacts of climate change, explore future consequences, and investigate possible solutions to this relevant topic.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. identify and explain the physical principles underpinning climate change
  2. recognize climate change issues as having personal relevance, and being globally significant
  3. begin to associate and critique claims as a function of their evidence


Wildlife Vegetation and Habitat
Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries (FWF) 325

This is a 3-credit hour lecture and lab course I teach in the Fall semester. It is a plant-centric that emphasizes the use of plant-related data in defining habitat and explaining habitat use by animals. For ‘wildlife’ majors, this course counts towards the ‘Botany’ component of The Wildlife Society’s ‘Associate Wildlife Biologist’ certification program.

Course Description

The course serves as an introduction to the interactions between plants and wildlife, including species of conservation concern. Emphasis is on plant species that comprise east Tennessee’s primary wildlife habitats, and the utility of vegetation data in management.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. identify representative trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs in east Tennessee
  2. define ‘habitat’ and ‘vegetation classification,’ and apply methods for its quantification
  3. infer how vegetation data could be used to help manage for wildlife


General Botany
Biology (BIO) 112

This is a 4-credit hour lecture and lab course in the introductory botany sequence. Dr. Kwit last taught this course in Spring 2016.

Course Description

Topics include plant anatomy, growth and nutrition, mechanisms of evolution, speciation, ecology (population, community, and ecosystem), and the interactions between plants and people (including origin of agriculture, the Green Revolution, genetic modification, plants as medicines, and a survey of current environmental issues related to plant biology).

Student Learning Objectives
By the end of the course, you should be able to explain how the five big ideas (FBIs) in biology relate to plants:

  1. Evolution: Populations of organisms and their cellular components have changed over time through both selective and non-selective evolutionary processes.
  2. Structure and Function: All living systems (organisms, ecosystems, etc.) are made of structural components whose arrangement determines the function of the systems.
  3. Information Flow and Storage: Information (DNA, for example) and signals are used and exchanged within and among organisms to direct their functioning.
  4. Transformations of Energy and Matter: All living things acquire, use, and release matter and energy for cellular / organismal functioning.
  5. Systems: Living systems are interconnected, and they interact and influence each other on multiple levels.


Plant-animal Interactions
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) 426

This is a 3-credit course offered every other Spring. It satisfies an upper-level EEB elective for EEB Majors and a Science Elective for Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences Majors.

Course Description

Introduction to the evolutionary and ecological aspects of interactions between plants and animals, including herbivory, pollination, and seed dispersal. Emphasis is on historical development of the field, discussions of primary literature, design of experiments, and writing.

Student Learning Objectives
By the end of this course, students will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of concepts and theories related to ecological interactions among plants and animals
  2. Explain current concepts of co-evolutionary interactions among plants and animals
  3. Apply ecological knowledge and concepts to current issues in conservation of biodiversity
  4. Develop scientific reading, writing, and information gathering skills, especially as they pertain to plant-animal interactions


Rare Species Management
currently Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries (FWF) 590

This was taught as a 1-credit seminar in Spring 2016 and will be developed into a 2- or 3-credit graduate-level course.

Course Description

Student-chosen topics on all aspects of rare species management & conservation will be discussed and debated. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: approaches to the concept of rarity; the development and use of rarity idices; issues of detection; management and recovery challenges; rare species policies, flagship species; in situ and ex situ methods and assisted migration.

Student Learning Outcomes
Students will define what entails species rarity, describe the challenges faced by them (and by those studying them), and describe management schemes targeting rare species.