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Human-Animal Studies: Courses in Canada

This is a list of colleges and universities in Canada that provide courses in Human-Animal studies.  This includes the name of the college, the name of the course, who is teaching the course, and brief description of the animal science course that the instructor will be covering.


Brock University Critical Animal Studies Minor and Concentration

The Department of Sociology’s courses on animals and the law encourage examination of the legal status of animals and how to protect them. Other courses analyze visual representations of animals and ask how these images affect our treatment of animals. By challenging patriarchal and speciesist institutions, Critical Animal Studies calls for a fundamental transformation of our epistemological, moral and political universe. Courses include:

Social Justice:  Animal Liberation and Social Justice.

John Sorenson

Theories and case studies examining social justice beyond the limits of the human species, including issues such as animal rights, animal liberation, speciesism in relation to other forms of oppression, alternative ethical and political relationships to animals.

Sociology:  Animals and the Law.

Lauren Corman

This course will explore questions pertaining to animals and the law in terms of both theory and practice. The law illuminates key interrelationships between humans and other animals. Not only the law but sociology itself interweaves with ethical concerns about how we should relate to others. Indeed, three competing theoretical groundings of present or proposed animal law are: (1) animal welfare; (2) animal rights; and (3) animal liberation (the latter often rejects rights in favor of a utilitarian approach). After reflecting on animal law in Canada as it exists, we will ask, as does Gary Francione, if society’s profession of animal welfare is, after all, self-contradictory. After examining the property status of animals and Francione’s vision of animal rights among other approaches, theoretical questions about the comparability of oppression will be addressed, including: can we compare speciesism to racism and sexism? Animals and the Law in Practice will occupy the second half of the course and will principally be concerned with animals as entertainers, companions, in laboratories, and as sources of food. Also, we will contemplate the practices of litigating and legislating in relation to animals, their advocates, and users.

Sociology

Animals and Human Society.

John Sorenson

This course will explore how animals relate to human social organization. The sociology of animals interweaves with ethical concerns about how we should relate to others. We will examine how animal rights and human rights, although they seem disparate to some, are actually very close conceptual neighbours. Different versions of animal liberation and animal “welfare” will be discussed. Since this is the first in Brock University’s series of Critical Animal Studies courses, it is fitting that we take a sustained look at an area in which 95% of animals killed by humans meet their fate: animal agriculture. We will examine not only flesh-eating but indeed vegetarianism. Fox’s insight that people “compartmentalize” their thinking about humans and animals will help to guide our reflections on animals used as performers, competitors, clothing, and research tools. Before concluding, we will contemplate how speciesism can be compared not only with racism but sexism, and how themes of liberation also intimately intertwine.

Critical Animal Studies

John Sorenson

In 1980, John Berger asked: Why Look at Animals? We consider some possible answers to Berger’s question by analyzing various ways of looking at animals, for example, as food, pets and objects of entertainment. We will examine how they are represented in visual media, especially photography, and in campaigns by animal advocates.  ‘Representation’ does not simply refer to visual images but also to the control and circulation of images and how they operate in society. Thus, in our examination, we will undertake a sociological investigation of the meaning and power of these images in our society and how visual representations draw attention to or are contradicted by the actual situation of various animals. ‘Representation’ also connotes the process of standing in for another’ – i.e. representing them politically and we will also discuss how academics and activists look at animals in the newly-emerging field of Animal Studies and, with our positioning of this course as Critical Animal Studies, ask what sorts of responsibilities are involved in the representation of animals.

Labour Studies

Animals at Work.

Kendra Coulter

Examination of labour involving animals in historical, contemporary, and cross-cultural contexts. Topics may include class and animals, animals as workers, connections and tensions between the rural and urban, debates about workers’ and animals’ welfare, inter-species solidarity, agency, and political action.

Department Of Child And Youth Studies

Companion Animals in the Lives of Children and Youth

This discussion-based course introduces students to historical and contemporary discourses regarding the relationship between children and companion animals. One of the main objectives of this course is to consider and compare various theoretical perspectives to understanding the human-animal bond, with a special focus on the unique relationships shared among children and youth and their companion animals. A significant body of work in the social sciences has validated the relationship between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence. Accordingly, in this course students will consider the relationship between conduct disorder and cruelty toward animals in childhood. Students will learn to recognize the connection between cruelty to animals and human violence and will review a variety of intervention programs (e.g., using pet therapy) for young victims of violence. Additionally, in response to the rapidly growing movement to incorporate animals as part of educational and therapeutic settings, students will learn about the use of animals within the classroom to facilitate children’s reading and learning and the use of animal-assisted therapy for helping children and youth deal with physical and mental health challenges. Students will also consider research focusing on the relationship between companion animals and children with and without disabilities in various situations including hospitals, dentists’ and doctors’ offices, schools and therapeutic/clinical settings.

 

Cape Breton University

Anthropology

Animals and 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.

 

Emily Carr Institute

Media Studies:  Environmental Ethics.

Carol Gigliotti

The primary goal of this course is to prepare students to understand and to critically evaluate various ethical perspectives on human beings’ interactions with nature and these perspectives’ applications to environmental issues. An important secondary goal is to provide students with tools to integrate those perspectives into their practice as cultural workers.

Media Studies:  Critical Animal Studies.

Carol Gigliotti

Once one begins to notice, it becomes clear that animals play a central role in how meaning is made in the arts and humanities. This course deals with how and why visual, narrative and metaphorical depictions of animals affect our ways of being with animals in aesthetic, activist, environmental and biological contexts. You will be looking closely at these roles through examples in the arts, literature, media, film, design and performance. You will also be reading materials from a range of areas – literary theory, philosophy, history, art and film history, sociology, anthropology and critical theory – and encouraged to think about how representing animals differs from “using” them; how do these representations affect animals themselves; how do literature, the arts, media and design respond to, and act upon ethical and political debates particularly the rights of animals. In what new ways can literature, the arts, film, design and media affect our ethical relationships with animals?

History and Evolution:  Environmental Ethics.

Rita Wong

Mounting concerns about a variety of environmental issues, from pollution to global warming to the extinction of species, have begun to inform the practices in art, design and media. Those concerns imply forms of action being taken about those issues. But what ethical assumptions underlie various actions. Is it a concern for human well-being? For animals? For all life? Or, even more broadly, for ecosystems? In other words, which things count ethically? The primary goal of this course is to prepare students to understand and to critically evaluate various ethical perspectives on human beings’ interactions with nature and these perspectives’ applications to environmental issues. An important secondary goal is to provide students with tools to integrate those perspectives into their practice as cultural workers.

 

Lakehead University

Foundations of Environmental and Sustainability Education

Connie Russell
The history of environmental and sustainability education (ESE) within Canadian and international contexts and emerging trends and issues in the field will be examined. Investigations will provide students with an understanding of the breadth and depth of environmental and sustainability education, its underlying assumptions, as well as key debates in the field.
Foundations of Social Justice Education

Connie Russell

The social, cultural and political contexts of learning, both in and out of schools, will be examined from a critical perspective. Issues to be explored and problematized include knowledge production and power relations, various “isms” in educational theory and practice, hegemony, praxis, experience, empowerment, resistance, and the relationship between education and advocacy.

Environmental Philosophies in Education

Connie Russell

An examination of historical and contemporary environmental philosophies found primarily in Western traditions, including but not limited to animal rights, deep ecology, ecofeminism, environmental ethics, and environmental justice. The theoretical and practical implications of these for education will be explored.
Animals in Education

Connie Russell

An examination of how other animals feature in formal and informal education opens up larger questions about how we, as humans, relate to other animals, other life, and the more-than-human in general. These questions have been of particular concern to environmental, humane, and interspecies educators, but should be considered by all educators. In this course, it is intended that you will:
• Take control of your own learning and personalize a course of study that is authentic and aids your own professional and personal growth. What are you hoping to learn and do in this course, and beyond?
• Participate actively, listen fully, and be open to learning with and from peers so that we can create a learning environment in which we can all contribute insights from our professional and personal experiences.
• Challenge yourself as a learner and as an educator, within the course itself and beyond.
• Develop a breadth and depth of understanding of how and why various ideas about human/animal relations have been taken up, or could be taken up, in education.
• Critically examine the underlying assumptions of different approaches to animal-focused education, including diverse and contested positions on human/animal relationships, the ways in which anthropocentrism and speciesism intersects with racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and sizeism, and how these assumptions impact educational theories, practices, and research.
• Identify those approaches that resonate most strongly with your own beliefs, values, and contexts, and why.
• Articulate a personal and/or professional vision for your own future that could contribute to a world where all humans, all life, and the land flourish.

McMaster University

Sociology

Animals and Society.

Leanne Joanisse

Much of human society is structured through interactions with animals or through interactions with other humans regarding animals, yet sociology has largely ignored these types of interactions. This course is designed to bring into the realm of sociological study the relationships that exist between humans and animals. It will examine how animals are socially constructed, challenge traditional representations of animals, and study animals as minded social actors. We will apply sociological approaches to the study of human-animal relationships and even animal-animal relationships. A major focus will be on the social construction of animals in North American culture, although we will also examine controversies surrounding human-animal relationships. Finally, we will consider the moral status and rights of animals in human society.

 

University of Alberta

Animal Science:  Companion Animals and Society.

Richard Uwiera

To explore the evolving roles of different companion animal species;  To introduce the concept of the human-animal bond and the influence it has on human behaviour, health, society, and government policy;  To learn about the physiology, health, behaviour and care of diverse species that are now considered to be companion animals;  To examine how companion animals have been selectively bred and trained to optimize certain physiological and behavioural traits in order to fulfill the needs of individuals and society;  To develop student awareness regarding the rapidly expanding companion animal industry and the recent expenditure trends of pet owners;  To theorize and discuss the future of companion animals;  Through interactions with companion animal organizations, laboratory sessions will provide the opportunity for students to gain direct hands-on experience with the different companion animal species;  To provide a fun, interactive learning environment that engages and encourages students to continue to apply the knowledge gained in this class to everyday situations.


University of British Columbia Graduate Program in Animal Welfare

This program offers a Ph.D. or M.Sc. in Animal Science specializing in Animal Welfare. Students joining our program usually have a background in a relevant area of science such as animal behavior, animal science, veterinary medicine, or, very occasionally, a different background but an interest in completing a science-based graduate degree. Students generally do a thesis in our core research area – animal welfare in relation to the housing and management of animals. Currently the majority of research relates to the welfare of cattle, lab animals, and companion animals. Students interested in welfare topics where we do not have sufficient expertise (for example, the welfare of zoo animals, marine mammals and other free-living wildlife, or improved management of captive primates) may be accepted on the condition that they secure appropriate co-supervision from outside the program.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Animals and Society.

David Fraser

An interdisciplinary introduction to the place of animals in human society. The course introduces students to (1) the place of animals in mythology and Western thought, (2) the role of animals in world food production, biomedical research, companionship and entertainment, and (3) attempts to safeguard animals through by practical innovations, the humane movement and the law. The course involves reading, discussion, critical thinking and written work.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Undergraduate Thesis in Animal Welfare.

David Fraser, Dan Weary

This course provides the opportunity for students to take an active role in a research project on animal welfare, including involvement in experimental design, data collection and data analysis. Ideally students identify a research topic and begin data collection during the summer, and work on the data analysis and writing their thesis during the Fall and Spring semesters. The final thesis will be in the format of a scientific article, and, when appropriate, students may submit their work for publication.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Topics in Animal Welfare.

Dan Weary

This involves reading and discussion of current research in animal welfare and ethics. Topics will be chosen to fit the interests of students, and may include the interplay of science and value issues in assessing animal welfare, research on animal cognition and its implications for animal ethics, effects of trade agreements on the welfare of agricultural animals, use of animal and non-animal models in research, and the relation between animal welfare and environmental concerns. Offered September-December.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Overview of Animal Welfare and Animal Ethic.

David Fraser, Dan Weary

A graduate level overview of animal welfare and animal ethics, covering scientific assessment of animal well-being, ethical concepts applied to animal use, and animal welfare issues arising in agriculture, biomedical research and other areas. This course is intended especially for new graduate students specializing in animal welfare. It will be linked to the undergraduate course AGRO 315 and students will cover a common curriculum. Graduate students enrolled in the graduate course will be responsible for a greater breadth of readings and will write an in-depth term paper.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Tutorials in Animals Welfare Research.

Dan Weary

This consists of 8 tutorials run with an instructor and a small group of students. Each week students will be set readings covering key topics in the field of animal welfare. Students will be expected to write a short essay on the readings and then discuss their essay and the readings during the tutorial session.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Animals and Global Issues

Dan Weary

Faculty of Land and Food Systems:  Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use

Dan Weary

 

University of British Colombia

English

Beyond Anthropocentrism: Bestial Passions

Greg Garrard

We live in a zoophilic society that celebrates love for companion animals, but we abhor bestiality. As a culture, we sometimes portray non-human animals as sexually innocent, and sometimes as sexually voracious. The language we use about human sexuality is shot through with assumptions about animals’ sexual natures: rapists are described as ‘sex beasts’, while terms of abuse and approbation like ‘bitch’, ‘chick’, ‘beefcake’ and ‘bird’ are zoomorphic in origin. This course reviews the scientific evidence of the sexual diversity of animals; considers literary theories of interspecies desire; and examines a range of literary texts that explore ‘zoophilia’ in its many forms.

English

Literature and Science: In Pursuit of the Whale

Greg Garrard

(Taught at Bamfield Marine Science Centre). The course will involve close study of literature and films relating to whales and whaling, employing theoretical concepts from ecocriticism (environmentally-oriented cultural criticism) and critical animal studies. Making good use of the proximity of wild cetaceans, historic whaling sites, and the contemporary cultural industry of whale-watching, we will combine place-based experiential learning with historically and theoretically informed methods of cultural analysis in order to address the questions: How have attitudes and interactions of humans and whales changed in modern history? What have whales come to mean in contemporary cultures (predominantly, but not solely, Canadian)? And finally: where might the entangled naturecultures of cetaceans and human primates go next? The disciplines of English literature, cultural theory, and environmental ethics, and the findings of marine biologists, the recorded experiences of Western whalers, and the traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples will be brought to bear on these questions.

English

Reading Animals

Greg Garrard

Humans have placed animals at the centre of their paintings, myths and stories for at least 30 millennia. In art, in popular science, and in everyday speech, we use animal analogies to understand ourselves, while we helplessly endow our pets with supposedly human qualities. Condemnation of fellow humans is easily expressed by calling them ‘beasts’, but the qualities of beastliness – sex and violence in the main – are very much human. Since Darwin and Wallace’s discovery of the principles of evolution, the animality of humans has posed a standing challenge to human-centred traditions such as Christianity and humanism, while in recent years, the identity and status of humans and animals have come to be conceptually threatened by cyborgs and genetically modified organisms. Moral arguments continue over the ethics of hunting, animal experimentation, eating meat and even ‘bestiality’. This course will sample the contemporary debate in all its variety, drawing material from philosophy, literature, film and cultural studies. We will seek to answer a question first posed by art historian John Berger: Why look at animals?
English

Beyond Anthropocentrism: Dog Tales

Greg Garrard

The earliest unequivocal evidence of the relationship of humans and dogs is a dog burial in Siberia that has been dated to 33000BP, which coincides with the most recent estimates of the period in which the genetic lineages of wolves and proto-dogs diverged. Dogs are not only our ‘best friends’; they are also the most ancient of the panoply of symbionts that facilitated humans’ colonization of the whole terrestrial planet. Moreover, scientists are now providing further evidence of the degree to which co-evolution has brought about remarkable behavioural convergence of our two species. While this course will draw heavily upon such findings, it will primarily examine literary texts that celebrate, mythologize and critique the intimate, arduous relationship of humans and dogs. Taking seriously the Australian aboriginal saying that “it is dogs that make us human” requires that we question our assumptions about both species.
University of Calgary

Geography

Animal Geography

Shelley Alexander
This course explores the socio-spatial relationships between humans and animals, with the goal of elucidating the ecological, economic, ethical, political, social and cultural pressures shaping these relations, and the conflicts arising from human-animal interactions. Inter-species bonds, and emotional lives of animals are also covered.

 

English

The Human and its Others: The Question of the Animal.

Pamela Banting

In this seminar we will begin to think with animals first and foremost by considering them in their Otherness. Beginning with a brief investigation into poststructuralist, postmodern, postcolonial, feminist, and ecocritical interrogations of Otherness and the ethics of representation, we will examine the humanist bias and the blind spots regarding the animal in existing theories of the Other. Then we will interrogate theorizations of the animal in relation to the question of language. One of the traditional demarcations between humans and other animals has been the notion that humans are the only ones capable of language and that this trait sets us above other species. Research in zoosemiotics and the long-term studies of naturalists, however, challenge this proprietorial exclusivity, and deep ecologists like Christopher Manes question why we privilege language over photosynthesis or sporogenesis. Thinkers such as James Hatley, Val Plumwood and Jacques Derrida propose that edibility be factored into concepts of subjectivity, including, in Hatley’s words, “the uncanny goodness of being edible to bears.” Emmanuel Levinas proposes the face as the basis for an ethics of self and Other, but the faces of animals (except pets) are widely believed to be the faces of species, not individuals. In summary, we will examine questions of subjectivity, the gaze and the face, constructions of the animal Other in nature photography, communication between humans and other mammals, the question of emotion as it pertains to animals other than humans, problems of anthropomorphism and antianthropomorphism, problems of realism in relation to representing the animal Other, captive and/or domestic vs. wild animals, ethics and etiquette in human/non-human relationships, postmodern animals, inter-species collaborations (e.g. musicians and birds), conservation rhetoric and the difficult of representing creatures who do not create documents and whose languages we do not comprehend, how theorizing the animal Other alters our sense of ourselves and our own species, and other topics.

 

University of Guelph

Center for the Study of Animal Welfare

Principles of Animal Care and Welfare

Ian Duncan

 

University of Lethbridge

Psychology

Human-Animal Interactions

Jennifer Mather

This course looks at the interactions both in terms of the animals and the people involved. We discuss viewpoints, and students are required to write a short paper about their philosophy towards animals. They interview someone who works with animals, do a poster presentation on an ethical issue, and a field observational project (in groups). There is no exam, class is focused on discussion, it brings up current issues and students keep a reflective Journal to examine ideas that matter to each one.

 

Psychology

Human-Animal Interactions.

Jennifer Mather

This course gives an overview of human-animal relationships, including the psychological principles on which some of our behavior with relation to animals is based.  It starts with philosophical viewpoints and then travels from closest to more remote associations.  These begin with parasites and move through pets, animal that are raised for food, hunting and its ethos, zoos and aquariums and the conservation of animal species.  It is an assignment-based course, students do an interview and oral presentation of someone who works with animals, a poster on an ethical HAI issue, and an observational project in the larger community-in groups.  In addition they keep an individual Reflective Journal with entries about things they have noticed in the news and around themselves about these associations. It is featured in the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships under Education: Teaching Human-Animal Interactions.

 

University of Toronto

Religion

Religion and Animals.

Paul York

This course examines animals in myths, legends, parables, and how animals figure into religious and cultural identities. It also examines the intersection of religious cosmologies, mythology, religious art, religious imagination, animal ethics, and environmental problems. The topic of religion and animals is a growing field of religious studies. Animals appear in numerous myths, legends and parables, as anthropomorphized symbols of human traits, as bearers of moral instruction, as agents of supernatural powers, and as divine messengers. Such questions as how to treat them properly and how human beings differ from them have helped define religious and cultural identities for millennia. In recent years scholars of religion have begun to bring together this corpus of material under a unified subject heading: religion and animals.

Religion

Food for Thought.

Francis Garrett

What is good food? What does it mean to say that “we are what we eat”? How is food understood differently in different cultures? This course in the philosophy of food will cover a range of metaphysical, epistemological, aesthetic, and ethical topics relating to what and how we feed ourselves and others. Drawing on readings in philosophical and religious traditions from around the world, we will discuss food rituals, vegetarianism, cannibalism, biotechnology, the globalization of food, agricultural ethics, the responsibilities of producers and consumers, and more. We will also consider how philosophers around the world distinguish between natural and artificial foods, between foods and other edible substances (such as medicine), and between who eats and who is eaten. In addition to intensive instruction and practice in critical reading and writing, students will learn and practice audio/video recording and editing, geographic information analysis and mapping, and website development through a series of course projects.

 


University of Windsor Minor in Anthrozoology

The goal in developing academic programming in this is field is to encourage students to think critically about humans’ relationships with animals, and to encourage and facilitate ongoing reexamination and reevaluation of the significance of these interactions.

Animals and Humans in Society.

Beth Daly

The goal of this course is to encourage students to develop an understanding of the historical, present, and future relationships that humans have with animals. Within this class, we explore and consider the different types of relationships between non-human animals (“animals”) and humans in our contemporary society from a variety of physical, social, and psychological perspectives. Topics include companion animals, animal rights and welfare, animals for food, animals in human health, and animals in sports and entertainment.

Animals and Ethics

Environmental Ethics:  Animals for Sports and Entertainment.

Beth Daly

Building on Animals and Humans in Society, this course will focus on many of the issues, controversies, and paradoxes, which are inherent to human relationships with animals as companions, for human entertainment, and animals in sports. Students will be expected to engage in meaningful discussions and readings, both verbally and through their own writing, applying different perspectives (ie. historical, sociological, cultural, etc.) to relevant topics. Potential topics for this class include: animal fighting as entertainment (cockfighting, dog fighting, bullbaiting, etc.); zoos and aquaria; circuses and rodeos; pedigree dogs and dog shows; and racing (greyhounds and horses).

Animals and the Law.

This course, for undergraduate non-law majors, focuses on the role of law in human-animal interactions and the balancing of competing interests within traditional areas of law. Students will explore and debate the major issues surrounding animal welfare, rights, and protection, including the legal status of animals as living property, and the evolving societal beliefs and values surrounding these issues. The course will primarily focus on examining and comparing the laws of Canada and the United States, although laws and constitutions of other countries, as well as international law, will also be considered.

 

York University

Environmental Studies

Human-Non-Human Animal Relations.

Leesa Fawcett

This course dwells within the emergent field of animal studies, and will consider a diverse range of human relationship to other animals. The foundation of the course is a contemporary, post-Cartesian vision of animals, with an emphasis on the relational knowledge that is made about, and between, humans and other animals from a cultural and environmental studies perspective. The course enables students to develop a creative and rigorous engagement with some of the complex dimensions of such issues as: the historical and philosophical scope of animal studies; animal agency, sociality, and consciousness; animal representation in literature, the arts, and popular culture; animal advocacy, social movements and humane education; and animal questions in science and technology.

History

Envision Animals: Animals and Visual Culture.

Matthew Brower

This course deals with the role of visual depictions of animals in aesthetic, activist, environmental and biological contexts. It explores the role of imagery in constituting contemporary and historical conceptions of animality. The course objectives are to develop an understanding of the importance of imagery in human-animal relations.