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Tim Baird

Associate Professor
Tim Baird
204 Wallace Hall


  • Human/environment Interactions
  • Human Ecology of East Africa
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Sustainability
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Indoor Geography / Building Ecology

I study how humans interact with different types of environments. My primary research project focuses on these interactions within conservation landscapes in the developing world, especially East Africa. Since 2005, I have worked with Maasai agro-pastoralist communities to examine several issues, including: the causes and consequences of livelihood diversification; the social dynamics of biodiversity conservation; the transformation of cooperation, the drivers of economic development and diversity; shifts in household demography, and responses to disturbance. Currently, I have two projects in Tanzania that focus on growing mobile phone use and gendered social networks in rural areas.

My other research focuses on human-environment interactions in smart environments. Here, I work with colleagues in education, mechanical engineering, and computer science to examine how embedded technologies in built-environments can support engagement, collaboration and creativity in formal and informal educational settings.

I teach courses on global sustainability, environmental conservation, and topics in modern Africa. In the classroom, I strive to: promote systems thinking, highlight values and diversity; translate interdisciplinarity; encourage self-regulated learning and academic motivation; foster empathy; and leverage SCALE-UP learning environments. 


  • Seeking Sustainability 1 (GEOG/NR 1115)
  • Seeking Sustainability 2 (GEOG/NR 1116)
  • Africa Together (GEOG 4984)
  • Human-Environment Interactions (GEOG 5984)

Recent publications

Baird, TD (In press) Response to “Campus cultures that attract and sustain faculty leadership in living-learning” by C Bohannon and F Shushok, Jr. in The Faculty Factor: A Vision for Developing Faculty Engagement with Living Learning Communities. Edited by J Eidum and L Lomicka. Stylus Publishing, LLC. 

Baird, TD, JT McCabe, E Woodhouse (In press) Case study: Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Chapter 4: Social and Environmental Outcomes. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Values Assessment.

Lee, E and TD Baird (2021) Roles of Autonomous Motivation, Individualism, and Instructor Support in Student-Centered Learning in South Korea and the United States. Educational Technology International 22 (2) 285-309.

Quandt, A, JD Salerno, TD Baird, JT McCabe, E Xu, JE Herrick, J Hartter (2021) Mobile phone use and agricultural impacts among female smallholder farmers in Tanzania. Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security 6 (1): 43-54.

Baird, TD, JT McCabe, E Woodhouse, I Rumas, S Sankeni, GO Saitoti (2021) Mobile phones and wrong numbers: how Maasai agro-pastoralists form and use accidental social ties in East Africa. Ecology and Society 26 (2) 41.

Baird, TD (2021) Applying the Own it, Learn it, Share it framework to the flexible Pink Time assignment to scaffold student autonomy online and in person. Educational Technology Research and Development 69: 105-108.

Quandt, A, JD Salerno, JC Neff, TD Baird, JE Herrick, JT McCabe, E Xu, J Hartter (2020) Mobile phone use is associated with higher agricultural productivity in Tanzania, East Africa. PLOS ONE (15) 8 e0237337.

*Summers, K, TD Baird, E Woodhouse, ME Christie, JT McCabe, F Terta, N Peters (2020) Mobile phones and women’s empowerment in Maasai communities: How men shape women’s social relations and access to phones. Journal of Rural Studies 77: 126-137.

Baird, TD, DJ Kniola, J Hartter, KA Carlson, D Russell, S Rogers and JC Tice (2020) Adapting Pink Time to promote self-regulated learning across course types. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 32 (1).

*Fox, D, TD Baird, MJ Stern, SP Prisley (2019) Where mobile groups settle: spatial patterns and correlates of Maasai pastoralist sedentarization in northern Tanzania. Applied Geography 112, 102086.

*Jensen, D, TD Baird, GB Blank (2018) New Landscapes of Conflict: Land Use Conflict at the Urban-Rural Fringe. Landscape Research 44 (4): 418-429.

Santo, A., K. Guillozet, M.G. Sorice, T.D. Baird, S.A. Gray, C.J. Donlan and C.B. Anderson (2017) Examining private landowners' knowledge systems of invasive species. Human Ecology 45 (4): 449-462.

Baird, T.D. and J. Hartter (2017) Livelihood diversification, mobile phones and information diversity in northern Tanzania. Land Use Policy 67: 460-471.

Baird, T.D., B.C. Chaffin and D.J. Wrathall (2017) A Disturbance Innovation Hypothesis: Perspectives from Human and Physical Geography. The Geographical Journal 183 (2): 201-208.

Lewis, A.L., T.D. Baird and M.G. Sorice (2016) Mobile phone use and human-wildlife conflict in northern Tanzania. Environmental Management 58 (1): 117-129.

Stern, M.J. and T.D. Baird (2015) Trust ecology and the resilience of natural resources institutions. Ecology and Society 29 (2): 14.

Baird, T.D. (2015) Conservation implications of the diffusion of Christian religious ideals in rural Africa. Population and Environment 36 (4): 373-399.

Baird, T.D., D.J. Kniola, A.L. Lewis* and S.B. Fowler (2015) Pink Time: Evidence of self regulated learning and academic motivation among undergraduate students. Journal of Geography 114 (4): 146-157.

MacKenzie, C.A., T.D. Baird, J. Hartter (2014) Use of Single Large or Several Small Policies as Strategies to Manage People-Park Interactions. Conservation Biology 28 (6): 1645-1656.

Baird, T.D. and C.L. Gray (2014) Livelihood Diversification and Shifting Social Networks of Exchange: A Social Network Transition? World Development 60: 14-30.

Baird, T.D. (2014) Conservation and Unscripted Development: Proximity to park associated with development and financial diversity. Ecology and Society 19 (1): 4.

Baird, T.D. and P.W. Leslie (2013) Conservation as Disturbance: Upheaval and Livelihood Diversification near Tarangire National Park. Global Environmental Change 23 (5): 1131-1141.

Baird, T.D. (2013) Parks and Place Fragments: The Implications of Biodiversity Protection in Tanzania and Indiana. African Geographical Review 32 (1): 100-104.

Baird, T.D., P.W. Leslie, and J.T. McCabe (2009) Effect of Conservation on Local Perceptions of Risk and Behavioral Response. Human Ecology 37 (4): 463-474.

Miller, T.R., T.D. Baird, C. Littlefield, G.P. Kofinas, F.S. Chapin III, and C.L. Redman (2008) Epistemological Pluralism: Reorganizing Interdisciplinary Research. Ecology and Society 13 (2).

Recent Grants

National Science Foundation
2022-2026. Human Environment and Geographical Sciences Program (HEGS). Building Ecology: Examining Space-Place Dynamics in a Shared Indoor Environment. T. Baird (PI), N. Abaid, D. Franusich, D. Kniola, T. Pingel, E. Tural, T. Upthegrove, (BCS-2149229) ($349,703).

Steelcase Inc.
2018-2020.  Stealcase, Inc., Active Learning Center Grant: Integrating Social Science and Sensing Technologies to Examine Active Learning Environments. T. Baird (PI), D. Kniola, P. Tarazaga, B. Knapp, V. Thomas, R. Wynne, L. Fuller (approx. $67,000).

National Science Foundation
2017-2020. Geography and Spatial Sciences Program (GSS). SBE-RCUK: The effects of mobile phones on gendered social networks, decision making and vulnerability. T. Baird (PI), E. Woodhouse, J.T. McCabe, BCS-1660428. $330,034 (+ £40,051 from RCUK)

Pathways Minor Development and Delivery Grant for General Education
2016-2018. Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, VT. Development interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in sustainability. T. Baird (PI) and L.W. Carstensen. $70,000

Human-Centered Smart Environments SEAD Grant
2016-2017. Institute for Society, Culture and Environment & Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, VT. Boosting University Infrastructure for Learning + Discovery (BUILD). T. Baird (PI), D. Kniola, P. Tarazaga. $30,000

National Geographic Society
2013-2014. Committee for Research and Exploration: Texting the Last Great Herds: Maasai Social Networks and Land Use in the Age of the Cell Phone. T. Baird (PI) and J. Hartter, CRE #9293-13. $17,720

Fulbright-Hays Fellowship
2009-2010. U.S. Department of Education. Wildlife Conservation and the Role of Inter-household Exchange in Social-Ecological Resilience. $38,106.