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Human-Animal Studies: Courses in Anthropology

Anthropology Overview

This is a list of colleges and universities around the world who provide courses for Anthropology in relation to the human-animal relationship. This includes the name of the college, the name of the course, who is teaching the course, and brief description of the Anthropology course that the instructor will be covering.


California State University—Northridge

Humans & Animals

Sabina Magliocco

This is a capstone seminar in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis on Applied Anthropology – the application of anthropological skills and principles to help solve human problems.  This semester, we will be exploring the relationships between humans and other animals from the earliest days of hunter-gatherers, to the development of domestication and its consequences, to the emergence of post-domesticity and new perspectives on animals, such as the animal welfare movement, animal rights, vegetarianism, and the emerging field of animal studies.  We will take an interdisciplinary perspective on the study of human-animal relations, drawing from literature in anthropology as well as sociology, history, critical theory, feminist theory and other approaches, as well as focusing on current issues in human-animal relationships and how anthropology provides useful tools to address them.


Canisius College

Cross Cultural Anthrozoology

Margo DeMello

This course provides a tool for critical evaluation of human-animal interactions from the perspectives of anthropology and anthrozoology. Anthrozoology is the study of the relationship between human and nonhuman animals. Animals play profoundly important roles in the lives of humans, whether as companion, food, spiritual guide, symbol, totemic ancestor or family member. All human interactions with animals and nature take place within a cultural context. Since culture is a central concept of anthropology, this discipline provides an effective theoretical perspective for studying human-animal relationships. In this course we consider the symbolic, economic, ecological, and social consequences of human/non-human animal interaction in a variety of cross-cultural contexts. A global perspective is used to help students better understand world trends regarding modernization and its consequences to animals and their habitats. This course provides a cross-cultural understanding of the concept of the animal by examining how our relationships with animals are mediated by culture, and thus how belief systems contribute to current animal, human, and environmental social problems.


Cornell University

Humans and Animals

Nerissa Russell

Humans-Animal Relations

Nerissa Russell


Hiram College

Ecological Science:  Origins, Findings, and Ethical Issues

Beginning with a brief history of the philosophical underpinnings of scientific thought and the culture in which it arose, the course will proceed to examine exactly how, from a current scientific perspective, the environment sustains us and how its different components function as a system that has the ability to react dynamically to changes. The course will also compare what the science of ecology tells us as to how some non-western primal societies (Australian Aborigine, Native American) view the natural world and its cycles of growth, death, and renewal. The ways in which the values of western thought and those of primal societies differ vis a vis the natural world, and the consequences of those differences in the past and present will also be examined. Laboratory experience will consist of several directed inquiry studies and field trips to local areas of interest. Cannot be counted toward a biology major. Also listed as Environmental Studies 122.


James Madison University

Animal Welfare

Ruth E. Chodrow

An examination of the biological basis of animal welfare. Topics include the evolution of domestic animals, physiological and behavioral measurements of stress, welfare assessment and pain perception. Case studies examine the use of animals for companionship, food, medical research and entertainment.


University College of Cape Breton

Animals & People

Tracey Smith-Harris

A critical and comparative examination of the relationship between people and animals. This course explores human attitudes toward animals by examining such topics as animal representations in art, literature and popular culture, as well as the social and cultural constructions of legal, political, economic and philosophical issues pertaining to animals. Much of the focus is on the controversies surrounding this complex social relationship.


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Culture of Nature

Jane Desmond

Ideas of “the natural” and “the cultural” underpin many of our beliefs, laws, and social practices.  This course examines the relationship between these two mutually-defining concepts with an emphasis on the construction of notions of a “natural world.”  We will see how this concept has varied over time and among different social groups .Emphasis will be on cultural groups and practices within the U.S. but students will be encouraged to relate these issues to their work on other parts of the world as appropriate. Topics will include the idea of “landscape” and of “nature” as a resource to be used, appreciated, articulated, or enjoyed.  In addition, at least half of the course will be devoted to analyzing our relationships to animals including the use of animals for entertainment, food, sports, science and education, and in the arts, and in the law.  We will discuss the rise of zoos, the American humane movement, contentious debates about factory farming and animal rights, and the ubiquitous family pet.  Films, local field trips or guest speakers, and activities will supplement in-class discussion  and assigned readings.  This course is especially useful for students in anthropology, but will also benefit students interested in ecology, environmental studies, cultural geography, public leisure, farming, animal sciences, and cultural studies approaches to literary representation, art, and social history.

Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Frontiers in Human/Animal Relations

Jane Desmond


University of Iowa

Animals, Culture, and Food

Matthew E. Hill

Human Impacts on the Environment

Matthew E. Hill


Matthew E. Hill

Religion and Environmental Ethics

Matthew E. Hill


University of Minnesota

The Animal

Christina Marran


Warren Wilson College

Animals and Society

Robert Eckstein

Explores a variety of issues regarding the relationship between human and non-human animals. Topics include animals in research and education; philosophies of animal rights and animal use; animals in entertainment, agriculture and wildlife issues; pet ownership; and cross-cultural comparisons. Discussions revolve around ideas introduced through readings, videos, and presentations by guest speakers.


Webster University

Environmental Anthropology

Michael R. Hulsizer (Chair)


Western Illinois University


Patricia K. Anderson

This course examines the symbolic, economic, ecological, and social consequences of human-animal interaction in a variety of cross-cultural contexts, ranging from small-scale (nonindustrial) societies to the modern industrial world. A global perspective is used to help students better understand world trends regarding modernization and its consequences to animals and their habitats. This course provides a cross-cultural understanding of the concept of animal by examining how our relationship with animals is mediated by culture, and thus how belief systems contribute to current animal and environmental-related social problems. Key topics include domestication and neotenization, the use of animals in entertainment and food production, companion animals, invasive species, and the connection between violence against animals and humans.

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