Timothy D. Baird, PhD


I'm interested in the interactions between environmental conservation, economic development, and social change - in a word, sustainability. Recently, my research in rural Africa has examined how Maasai pastoralists are adapting to protected areas, engaging a globalizing world, and embracing new technologies. It is a great privilege to work with such welcoming and resilient families and communities.

I'm also interested in how social networks change, how the creative process evolves, and how people respond to disruption. This work relates to scholarship in human/environment interactions, livelihood studies, human ecology, and resilience studies.


Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Virginia Tech

Senior Fellow, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Virginia Tech

Director, Pathways to Sustainability Minor, Virginia Tech

  • I will be giving a public lecture at the GSSC in Cologne on Dec. 11. 

  • David Fox just published his thesis work in Applied Geography.

  • I am very excited to be spending the 2019 fall semester as a visiting scholar at the Global South Studies Center (GSSC) at the University of Cologne in Germany. 

  • Check out our new video highlighting Kelly Summer's work with our team in northern Tanzania:

  • We are happy to offer a new interdisciplinary Pathways to Sustainability minor. Check out our video, or visit our website



Peer-reviewed publications

Baird, T.D., D.J. Kniola, J. Hartter, K.A. Carlson, S. Rogers, D. Russell and J.C. Tise (In press) Adapting Pink Time to Promote Self-Regulated Learning Across Course and Student Types. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.


*Fox, D.N., T.D. Baird, T.D., M.J. Stern, and S.P. Prisley (2019) Where mobile groups settle: spatial patterns and correlates of Maasai pastoralist sedentarization in northern Tanzania. Applied Geography 112: 102086. (link)


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

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. (link)

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


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. (link) (PDF)


*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. (link) (motherboard.com) (rewrite.com) (durablehuman.com)

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

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

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. (link) (theubiquitouslibrarian.com)

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. (link

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. (link) (research.vt.edu(theconversation.com)

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

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. (link(research.vt.edu)

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

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. (link)

Miller, T.R. Miller, 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). (link)

Invited commentaries

Baird, T.D. (2015) Comment on Who Helps and Why? Cooperative Networks in Mpimbwe by C. Kasper and M. Borgerhoff Mulder. Current Anthropology. 56 (5): 701-732. (link)

Baird, T.D. (2015) Motivate the Future. Pedagogy in Practice. Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER), Virginia Tech, 2-4. (link)

Papers in preparation

In review: *Summers, K.H, T.D. Baird, E. Woodhouse, M.E. Christie, J.T. McCabe. Mobile phones and Maasai women's empowerment: How men shape social relations and access.

In review: Lee, E. and T.D. Baird. Comparing engagement with student-centered learning in South Korea and the United States.


In preparation: Baird, T.D., J.T. McCabe, E. Woodhouse. The importance of random connections.

In preparation: *Fosnocht, E., T.D. Baird, R. Sarlo D. Kniola. Using building-based sensors to assess patterns of human behavior in an informal learning environment.





External Grants

Steelcase, Inc.

2018-2020.  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) & Cultural Anthropology Program. 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)

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.


National Science Foundation
2009-2010. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Wildlife Conservation and the Role of Inter-household Exchange in Social-Ecological Resilience. P. Leslie (PI) and T. Baird, BCS-0927173. $12,000.

External Honors

2019  Design Award (Gold, Silver), European Product Design Awards (Kizingo design team)

2019  Design Award (Silver), 12th Annual IDA awards (Kizingo design team)

2013  Nystrom Dissertation Award (Finalist), AAG
2012  Student Paper Award, Cultural & Political Ecology Specialty Group, AAG
2012  Student Paper Award, Africa Specialty Group, AAG
2009  Dissertation Research Grant, AAG

Internal Research Grants

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 [exhibition] [video]

Innovation Seed Grant Program
2016-2017. Office for Vice Chancellor of Research, University of Colorado. Improving Access to Agricultural Knowledge Through Mobile Phones: Exploring the Potential for Technology Adoption in Africa. J. Hartter (PI), J. Neff, J. Herrick, J.T. McCabe, T. Baird, A. Quandt, J. Salerno. $50,000

SEAD Mini Grant
2015-2016. Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, VT. Identifying collaboration & creativity in instrumented buildings to support innovation. T. Baird (PI), D. Kniola, P. Tarazaga. $3,000

National Science Foundation IGERT Traineeship
2005- 2010. Carolina Population Center, UNC. Approx. $125,000

Internal Teaching Grants

Pathways Development and Delivery Grant
2016-2018. Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, VT. Delivery of Sustainability Pathways Minor. T. Baird (PI) and L.W. Carstensen. $70,000

Pathways Scholar
2015-2017. Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, VT. Development of ‘Africa Together’ course and Pathways Sustainability Minor. Approx. $19,000

Inclusion Pedagogy Grant
2014. VT Office for Diversity and Inclusion: Expansion of the Pink Time Assignment. $1,500

Graduate Student Mentoring Award
2010. UNC Office for Undergraduate Research. $1,000

Internal Honors

2018.  XCaliber Award for exceptional, high-caliber contributions to technology-enriched teaching and learning, Office of the Provost, Virginia Tech

2017.  Favorite Faculty Award, Division of Student Affairs, Virginia Tech 




Some of my thoughts on education and motivation can be found here (2015).


Seeking Sustainability I: GEOG 1115 / Every fall / syllabus / general education media
Seeking Sustainab
ility II: GEOG 1116 / Every spring / syllabus
Africa Together: GEOG 4984 / Spring 2019 / syllabus

Human-Environment Interactions: GEOG 5984 (Grad class) / Spring 2018 / syllabus


Pink Time is a radical assignment to

promote course engagement and

learning. Check out our website

... or my talk on Pink Time.


If you are a faculty member affiliated with this minor, check out our website. If you're a student check out our video above.

In the podcast below, I discuss some of my strategies for teaching GenEd courses and design of our new interdisciplinary Pathways Minor in Sustainability.


In 2017, Alice Rogers, who is the manager of the ALCP at VT, created this wonderful video exhibit of my Seeking Sustainability class. The goal of the project was to examine how active learning is working in VT's new classroom building. I'm so grateful for the work that she did to look carefully at our class and tell a thoughtful and engaging story. Check out her work:




I am actively looking for qualified and enthusiastic new students to start in fall of 2020. Currently my projects involve: (1) gendered social networks and mobile phones in northern Tanzania (yes - the pics on the site); and (2) digital strategies to examine education spaces in North America (hmmm... I need some pics of this). If you are interested in working with me, or simply discussing the prospect of graduate school at Virginia Tech, please contact me by email with your interests and CV and we can set up a time to talk.




MS Student

Education: BS, Natural Resources Conservation; BS, Forestry, Virginia Tech
Email: khsumme@vt.edu
Interests: Human-environment interactions, women and gender in international development, sustainable development, climate change adaptation, natural resources conservation, outdoor recreation
Experience: Returned Peace Corps volunteer Tanzania 2015-2017 (Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Extension Agent); Naturalist Interpreter in Denali National Park & Preserve


MS Student

Education: BS, Geography; BA, Philosophy. James Madison University
Email: villarmd@vt.edu
Interests: Human-environment interactions, smart environments, intelligent infrastructure, human-centered communities, political geography, education
Experience: Research Assistant for BUILD project, Virginia Tech



Other Press

I ate locally for a year in 2008 and blogged about it for The Splendid Table on American Public Media. Check out my interview below (beginning around 21:20). Or visit here

the Splendid Table - American Public Media
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