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HAS Courses in Sociology

Augustana College

Debi Reed Hill

Animals and Society

This course is designed to introduce students to the broad new field of human-animal studies by focusing on three key areas.  First, we consider non-human animals as thinking and feeling beings and actors, present in every important aspect of human life and society.  In this analysis we employ ideas from symbolic interaction, supplemented by cognitive ethology and neuroscience in order to address questions about animals as persons and selves.  Second, we consider various specific human institutions and their practices in relation to non-human animals.  Third, we discuss the implications of all this for the rights of animals and for the ethical assessment of their treatment by human beings, reading a variety of perspectives, including sociological, zoological, legal, and philosophical sources.

Brock University

David Sztybel, Lauren Corman

Animals and the Law

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.

Brock University

David Sztybel, Lauren Corman

Animals and Human Society

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.

Brock University

John Sorenson

Critical Animal Studies

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.

Brock University

Kendra Coulter

Animals at Work

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.

Central Connecticut State University

Jessica Greenebaum

Animals & Society

Using Symbolic Interaction as the main theoretical perspective, this course explores the social relationship between humans and animals and examines the social meanings which shape the role and status of animals in society.

Drury University

Animals and Society

This course will give students the opportunity to think critically about controversial issues regarding the relationships between humans and other animals. Central to the course will be an exploration of the social construction of animals in American culture including various subcultures and the way in which these constructed social meanings shape human identity.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Irene Fiala

Social and Ethical Considerations.
This course examines how human society is structured through interaction with non-human animals.  Topics include the ways in which human society has classified animals, how humans have exploited animals, how animals serve human needs and the consideration of ethical issues surrounding the use of animals for human purposes.  The content of this course will be grounded in the three main sociological perspectives: Functionalist Theory, Conflict Theory and Symbolic Interactionist Perspective.  Additionally, this course will examine how a socially constructed view of, and practices with, animals reinforce and perpetuate stratification rooted in inequalities such as racism, sexism and social class.

Frostburg State University

Daniel Moorehead

Animals in Human Society

Students develop an understanding of how sociological perspectives and theories are used to explore the role of non-human animals in society. Students study animal/human interaction in several major social institutions – family, health, politics, economy, religion, and sports, utilizing a service learning approach. Students recognize the variety of situations in which nonhuman animals may enhance and promote human health and well-being. Students explore the nature and forms of abuse/cruelty animals are subjected to through interdisciplinary inquiry spanning sociology, criminology, moral philosophy, and law. Students examine institutionalized forms of abuse in research, zoos, hunting, sport/entertainment and food production. Course introduces students to the growing discourse surrounding “sustainability” and sustainable issues. Students also discuss the afterlife of animals.

Illinois State University

Marion Willetts

Animals and Society

In this course, a sociological examination of the roles and statuses of non-human animals in society is provided. We will explore philosophical arguments supporting and opposing the principles of animal rights, and how these arguments differ from those in support of/opposition to the principles of animal protection/welfare. We will analyze various social movements and organizations concerned with animal rights and animal protection. We will investigate how and why some animals are defined as food, as research subjects, as sources of entertainment, as sources of clothing, and as companions. Finally, we will explore the connections between non-human animal oppression and exploitation and the oppression and exploitation of specific aggregates of human animals (particularly racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the poor).

Keene State College

Brian Green

Environmental Sociology

Examines some of the important concepts and theories used by environmental sociologists to address the following substantive issues: how society and the economy have developed their relationship to the environment, efforts to expand our moral circle to include non-human life, a variety of environmental movements such as the environmental justice movement and the animal rights movement, how we measure and interpret studies of environmental concern, and some of the problems and possible solutions of building sustainable and alternative environmental societies.

McMaster University

Leanne Joanisse

Animals and Society

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.

Michigan State University

Linda Kalof

Contemporary Animal-Human Relationships

Through the lens of interdisciplinary contemporary scholarship, we will examine: * animals as philosophical and ethical subjects. Are language and rational thought prerequisites for the extension of justice and/or morality? What about the assertion that there is a connection between the human treatment of animals and our treatment of marginalized human groups? * animals as reflexive thinkers. Do some nonhuman animals possess material culture, social morality, and emotions such as grief and sadness? * animals as domesticates, “pets” and food. What is the link between animal domestication and the spread of contagious diseases, especially zoonotic diseases? How do humans “petrify” nature? What are the social, environmental and biological consequences of the intensive factory farming of animals for food? * animals as scientific objects. What are the issues surrounding the use of animals in scientific speculation, classification and experimentation, such as in vivisection, cloning and the human-animal relationship in technoscience? * animals as spectacle and sport. What is the cultural meaning of pitting animals in combative struggle against humans or against other animals? Do humans have a penchant for hunting and for gazing at exotic animals in confined places? Do these activities help shape the meaning of animals in human culture, reinforcing Michel Foucault’s ideas about power and surveillance? Should humans swim with dolphins, feed stingrays, play with killer whales? Finally, we will examine the thorny question of the meaning of nature and its reconfiguration from a binary purified category to a fluid nature-culture network composed of actants in relation.

Michigan State University

Linda Kalof and Molly Tamulevich

Animals, People, and Nature

Humans from a diverse range of disciplines have attempted for years to answer the animal question: what is the fitting role of animals in human culture and of humans in animal culture? The interaction between humans and animals has occupied the minds of thinkers from Aristotle to Jane Goodall. By examining the animal question from a variety of contemporary perspectives, we will gain understanding of the role human and non-human animals play in each others lives, deaths and cultures. Each week, we will consider a different area of society where humans and animals interact, attempting to see the meeting of species not only from a human perspective, but by considering the position of the animal as well.

Michigan State University

Dr. Linda Kalof (Info)

Research Practicum in Animal Studies

Middle Tennessee State University

Angela Mertig

Animals and Society

Non-human animals have played important, often unrecognized, roles throughout the history of human society. Even so, sociology, as the study of society and its component parts, has typically viewed other animals as part of the environmental back-drop that could be safely ignored. Recently, however, sociological and other disciplinary recognition of animals in society has grown. Not only have sociologists gained greater appreciation for social impacts on animals (and their environments), but they have increasingly come to see that other animals are social agents as well. This course is devoted to exploring many of the ways that non-human animals and humans interact in sociologically meaningful ways.

Purchase College, SUNY

Matthew Immergut

Environmental Sociology

This course brings a sociological perspective to environmental issues, both past and present, by asking: Who is civilized? Who is savage? What is nature? By addressing questions of how human societies, animals, and land have shaped each other, students better understand the root causes and consequences of today’s environmental crisis. Topics include world hunger, water, and environmental equity for all.

Texas Christian University

Carol Thompson

Animals, Culture and Society

Non-Human animals are an ever-present part of our lives. This presence, even though salient, is often taken for granted by humans. Even sociologists, for the most part, have neglected the study of animal/human interaction and the importance of animals in human societies. This course will attempt to correct this oversight by addressing the roles, places, meanings, and significance animals have in human society. We will explore the cross-cultural differences and the major social and philosophical arguments regarding the place of animals and the capacity of animals to think, feel, express, interact etc. We will also examine beliefs, social practices and policies regarding animals and their well-being and the social, cultural, and political bases of these practices and policies. This course will apply sociological approaches to the study of human-animal relationships. It will be revealed that humans are not consistent in our perceptions of, or relations with, other animals, indicating that socially constructed realities extend into human/animal relations. We will challenge traditional representations of nonhuman animals and connect these representations to enduring social problems such as racism, sexism and violence against the vulnerable. Central to this course will be an exploration of the ways in which animals’ lives intersect with human social life. The overarching goal is to examine these topics in a way that is both scholarly and practical, thereby providing a rich and meaningful intellectual experience.

University of Central Florida

Liz Grauerholz

Animals and Health

This course explores the ways in which non-human animals both enhance and diminish humans’ health. We will also explore how animals’ health is linked to humans’ health. “Health” is broadly conceptualized and includes physical, psychological, spiritual, and socio-relational experiences that promote general well-being. The use of animals for therapy, medicine, entertainment, food, socialization, beauty, and spiritual practice will be examined.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Leslie Irvine

Animals and Society

This course examines the role of non-human animals in human society; Investigates the social construction of the human/animal boundary; Challenges ideas that animals are neither thinking nor feeling; Examines the many ways humans rely on animals; Considers the link between animal cruelty and other violence; and Explores the moral status of animals.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Luis Sfeir-Younis

The Sociology of Animal Rights

This course is designed to examine sociologically the relationships that exist between humans and other non-human animals.  Since its birth in Europe in the 19th century, sociology has focused almost exclusively on human-to-human interactions largely ignoring the nature and significance of the human-animal relationship.  However, in the last decades, this relationship has received much public attention. Scholars from all disciplines are focusing the nature, the significance, and the implications of the human-animal relationship. Animals are being placed back into the core of the sociological agenda.

In an effort to fundamentally rethink the relationship between human beings and non-human animals, this course will explore some of the legal, ethical, cultural, political, ecological, and social issues that underlie the concerns for and against animal rights and protections.   We will examine the use of animals for experimentation, food, entertainment, work, and their furs, and the consequences of such practices on the well-being of animals as well as its impact on society, its industries and institutions.  Different perspective on animal rights and animal welfare will be presented and a comparative analysis of human and animal rights and abuses will be attempted so as to be able to trace whether the abuse and exploitation of animals may be inextricably related to the oppression of human groups. We will examine how the use and abuse of animals in American society may perpetuate unequal and oppressive human-to-human relationships such as racism, sexism, and class privilege.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Luis Sfeir-Younis

Animals and Society

This course is designed to examine sociologically the relationships that exist between humans and other non-human animals. Since its birth in Europe in the 19th century, sociology has focused almost exclusively on human-to-human interactions largely ignoring the nature and significance of the human-animal relationship. However, in the last decade, this relationship has received much public attention. Scholars from all disciplines are focusing on the nature, the significance, and the implications of the human-animal relationship. Animals are being placed back into the core of the sociological agenda. In an effort to fundamentally rethink the relationship between human beings and non-human animals, this course will explore some of the legal, ethical, cultural, political, ecological, and social issues that underlie the concerns for and against animal rights and protections. We will examine the use of animals for experimentation, food, entertainment, work, and their furs, and the consequences of such practices on the well-being of animals as well as its impact on society, its industries, and institutions.

University of South Carolina, Upstate

Clif Flynn

Animals and Society

This course will examine the role of animals in human society. It will examine how animals are socially constructed, it will challenge traditional representations of nonhuman animals, and study animals as minded social actors. It will apply sociological approaches to the study of human-animal relationships, and even animal-animal relationships. Finally, it will explore the oppression of nonhuman animals, and consider the moral status and rights of animals in human society.

University of Vermont

Robbie Pfeufer Kahn

Animals and Society

This rich, new area of scholarly investigation is the subject of our course. But we also come together as readers of the printed page. Reading might seem less than exciting to young women and men accustomed to the visual acquisition of knowledge–TV, movies, computers–over the verbal. Yet the gray blocks of words on white paper in our five texts hold as much life in them as a wiggly puppy. Together, we will work on releasing the boundless energy contained in a text. The key is to look deeply at the words that create the author’s story. Our weekly written exercises and discussions will help you cultivate the ability to look deeply at the text. During the semester we will see a number of films and have several guest speakers.

The University of Vermont

Sociology of Animals & Society

University of Wisconsin, Marathon County

Ann Herda-Rapp

Sociology of the Environment

Explores the socio-cultural foundations of our relationship with the natural environment. Examines the relationship between environmental degradation and social, political, and economic structures. Explores beliefs and values about the environment and their expression in various forms of environmentalism and environmental movements. Also analyzes the presentation of environmental issues in cultural, political and scientific domains.

Ursinus College

Jonathan Clark

Animals and Society. In recent years there has been an explosion of research in the humanities and social sciences on what has come to be called the animal question. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of animal studies, with a particular focus on the sociological literature. Students will emerge from the course with a nuanced sociological understanding of some of the most controversial issues raised by our relationship with other animals. Among the issues we will explore are genetic engineering, factory farming, animal experimentation, and the war on “animal rights terrorism.”

Wittenberg University

David Nibert

Sociology of Minority Groups

Since humanity developed the capacity to produce an economic surplus, countless masses of earthlings have been oppressed, and many have had their labor appropriated, by relatively small groups of privileged humans. This course will examine the historical and contemporary causes for the continued oppression of entire groups, including various ethnic groups, women, the impoverished and other species of animals. Special attention will be given to the roots of oppression with an in depth look at the entanglement of oppression of humans and other animals. This analysis will be woven into an examination of the treatment of devalued humans in the United States. The course will include class discussions, videotape presentations, and assignments outside of class. Students are expected to respond actively to assigned readings by discussing key ideas and by using examples to support or question these ideas.

Wittenberg University

David Nibert

Animals & Society

Increasingly, social scientists are focusing on the ethical, environmental and social consequences of human treatment of other animals. This course will examine how human societies have viewed and treated other animals and how the interactions and the structure of the relationship between humans and other animals affect both those animals and human social organization. For example, some scholars argue that cultural practices that define and use nonhuman animals as food contribute significantly to various forms of environmental devastation. Human health research indicates that high rates of heart disease and cancer in many cultures can be attributed to the consumption of animals. Others suggest that human perception and treatment of nonhuman animals are related in significant ways to such enduring problems as racism, sexism and violence against vulnerable groups of people. This course will examine the causes of human exploitation of other animals and the issues that frame the animal rights debate.