Developing the field of Human-Animal Studies
In the fall of 2003, one of the precursor organizations that became ASI held an initial meeting of a group of Human-Animal Studies scholars that eventually became the HAS Development Executive Committee. Since then the Committee has developed materials to facilitate the formation of minors at universities. Recently, Kathi Jenny, one of the members of the committee established a minor at the University of Redlands. We also have worked to advance the establishment of majors -- following the example of Cheryl Joseph, also a member, who established, at Notre Dame de Namur, the only undergraduate HAS major in the US. We have seen other recent gains in the intellectual infra-structure of the field -- the first endowed chair in HAS, at the School of Social Work, University of Denver. This chair was made possible largely through a grant from the American Humane Association, whose executive director, Marie Wheatley, is a member of our Committee.
We also developed a summer fellowship for HAS scholars, both pre-doctoral and established scholars. Hosted by Tom Regan, the fellowship met in summer 2007 at North Carolina State University, where the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archives are housed. The most extensive in the world, these archives consist largely of materials sold to the university by ASI, in another of its pre-merger forms. Just completed, this summer's fellowship was held at Michigan State University and hosted by Linda Kalof, David Favre, and Thomas Dietz. Earlier this year Michigan State University launched the first US certification program for graduate studies in HAS in the Humanities and Social Studies.
Currently, some members of the Committee have been working on an even more ambitious project. It would involve establishing a Center for the study of human-animal relationships, the mission of which would be to develop and disseminate knowledge that brings about positive change in how humans and other animals relate to each other. The Center would be the go-to place for scholars, students, media, and regulators seeking credible scientific information on the many issues, policies, and practices involving our relationships with other animals. The Center would both conduct and commission research the primary thrust of which is to reframe the way we relate to other animals. Although still in an early formative stage, this is an exciting prospect in which ASI is proud to be taking a major role.
Published by on 07/25/2008 16:01:04