A new semester starts soon at many college campuses and more schools are offering courses in the still-being-defined field of animal studies. Such courses explore the interactions between animals and humans, in recognition that we are not the only species that uses tools, has language and displays, as a recent New York Times articles notes, the “roots of morality.”
That is, animals are no longer being studied strictly within the “province of science,” but from the perspective that “we are a species among other species,” according to Kari Weil, a philosophy professor at Wesleyan University who has written a forthcoming book, “Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now?”
Courses in animal studies can be in the academic disciplines of art, literature, sociology, anthropology, film, theater, philosophy or religion. Animals as food is a popular topic that raises ethical and moral issues, notes Lori Gruen, head of the philosophy department at Wesleyan. As she says, “Given that the way most people interact with animals is when they’re dead and eaten, that [animals as food] becomes a big question.”
The six-year-old Animals and Society Institute — whose webpage says that “there is a link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans” — lists more than 100 courses in American colleges and universities and around the world that would qualify as animal studies. In conjunction with Wesleyan, the Institute has started a summer fellowship program. Michigan State University allows doctoral and master’s students in various academic fields to concentrate in animal studies and New York University started an animal studies initiative this fall, so that undergraduates can minor in animal studies. There is also an academic journal, The Journal for Critical Animal Studies.
Here are five courses in animal studies that are in the course catalogs of US colleges and universities, with descriptions from their respective institutions.
Photo by tillwe
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.