ASU faculty resources

Innovating from Life: The Basics of Biomimicry



What if the solutions to our most pressing and perplexing challenges could be found all around us, maybe even in our own backyards?

Well, the inspiration for sustainable innovation does lie all around us—in the survival strategies of the plants and animals that share our planet.

Like us, organisms in nature are faced with critical tasks such as generating energy, handling waste, managing temperatures or communicating important information. The difference? Organisms meet their needs in a sustainable way.

We can too. How? By learning how to think and act more like nature. That’s what the emerging discipline of biomimicry is all about. As biomimicry thought leader Janine Benyus observes, “Biomimicry is learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs.”

Innovating from Life is a suite of self-guided, plug-and-play modules that can help you introduce the basics of this groundbreaking practice into your own course. Each module focuses on an organism that exemplifies a particular function, such as: How does nature clean surfaces? How does nature use low-energy processes? Or how does nature recycle waste? The modules provide:

  • A natural history background on the strategies that organisms use to accomplish these functions.
  • A brief introduction to the practice of biomimicry.
  • Short profiles of real-world applications in design, architecture, business, engineering or sustainability.
  • A sample assignment that will help your students practice creating their own bio-inspired solutions.

The modules are available as stand alone linked lessons or Canvas modules. The Canvas modules include a learning activity. The modules currently available include:

Incorporating these modules into your Canvas course is easy.

Log into your ASU Canvas account and click on the Canvas Commons button located in the universal navigation menu. Search for the title of the module you are interested in and then click the Import/Download button to copy the module into your course.


To have the modules sent directly to your Canvas account, simply fill out the form below. 

If you have questions about biomimicry or would like to provide feedback on the Innovating from Life modules, please contact us at