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ASI-University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Fourth Annual Human-Animal Studies Institute

Co-Directors: Jane Desmond (Resident Director), Kim Marra, Gala Argent, and Kenneth Shapiro

Call for Applications

The Animals & Society Institute and the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign invite applications for the fourth annual Human-Animal Studies Summer Institute program for advanced graduate students and early career scholars pursuing research in Human-Animal Studies.

This interdisciplinary program, inaugurated in 2017, is focused on graduate students and those in the first few years post-Ph.D. or other terminal degrees like M.F.A., M.S.W., D.V.M., or J.D., and will enable 20-30 participants to work on their dissertations or publications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted by the Center for Advanced Study, for one intensive week. The 2020 Institute will take place from July 12-19, 2020, inclusive.

The Institute is designed to support participants’ individual research in Human-Animal Studies as well as to promote interdisciplinary exchange. The program will offer a shared space of critical inquiry that brings the participants’ work-in-progress to the attention of a network of influential HAS scholars and provides the participants with the guidance and feedback to develop their work. At the heart of the program are daily morning seminars devoted to discussion of participants’ work, followed by afternoon plenary lectures by distinguished speakers. These will be complemented by special workshops and field trips to on- and off-campus locations which highlight different aspects of the human-animal relationship. Participants should expect a stimulating intellectual environment reflecting a diversity of approaches, projects, disciplinary backgrounds, and ethical positions on animal issues. All fellows must be in continuous residence for the duration of the program.

Summer Institute Directors

 The Institute is directed by Jane Desmond (Resident Director), Kim Marra, and Kenneth Shapiro.

Jane Desmond is Professor of Anthropology and of Gender/Women’s Studies at Illinois, where she also holds affiliate faculty appointments in the Unit for Critical Theory and Interpretation and the College of Veterinary Medicine. She has published widely in the fields of performance studies, transnational American Studies, and on human-animal relations, and recently inaugurated the Animal Lives Book Series at the University of Chicago Press. Desmond is the author of two solo-authored books (Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World, U of Chicago Press, 1999) and Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science and Everyday Life, U of Chicago Press, 2016), two edited books on performance, a third co-edited book on globalization, and several special issues of journals in multiple countries, in addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her work has appeared in Hungary, South Korea (in translation and in English), in China (in translation), and in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Brazil, as well as the United States. In addition, she is the co-founder and Executive Director of the International Forum for US Studies: A Center for the Transnational Study of the United States,” and is past President of the International American Studies Association (2008-2012).

 Kim Marra is Professor of Theatre Arts and American Studies, Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre Arts, and affiliate faculty in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. Her books include Strange Duets: Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914 (University of Iowa Press, 2006, winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize) and the co-edited volumes Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History (1998) and Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History (2002), The Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Legacy (2005), and Showing Off, Showing Up: Studies of Hype, Heightened Performance, and Cultural Power (2017), all for the University of Michigan Press. She performed an original autobiographical solo piece Horseback Views (published in Animal Acts), which inspired her prize-winning essay “Riding, Scarring, Knowing: A Queerly Embodied Performance Historiography” (Theatre Journal, 2012). She has also published essays on War Horse, Theatre Equestre Zingaro, Equus, and equestrian sculptures on the Parthenon Frieze. She is currently an associate editor of the Animal Lives Series of the University of Chicago Press.

Gala Argent is the Director of Human-Animal Studies at the Animals & Society Institute. A lifelong equestrienne and interdisciplinary scholar whose work concerns human-nonhuman animal intersections, she holds a PhD in Archaeology, MA and BA degrees in Communication Studies, and teaches or has taught in higher education within departments of Art, Communication Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and Animal Studies. Gala’s work focuses on the interpersonal, intersocial and intercultural relationships between humans and other animals, and on the ways these can be seen to co-create and replicate mutually interdependent selves, identities and practices within various societies, past and present.

Kenneth Shapiro is cofounder and President of the board of the Animals and Society Institute. He is founding editor of Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, and coeditor and cofounder of Journal for Applied Animal Welfare Science and the editor of the Human-Animal Studies book series. His most recent book is The Assessment and Treatment of Children who Abuse Animals: The AniCare Approach.

 Guest Faculty

 This year, we are excited to announce the following guest faculty:

  • May Berenbaum, Professor of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Amy Fitzgerald, Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Windsor
  • Maria Lux, Assistant Professor of Art, Whitman College
  • Chris Green, Executive Director of the Animal Law & Policy Program, Harvard University
  • Teresa Mangum, Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, University of Iowa
  • Lindsay Marshall, 2019-2020 Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, American Indian Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Robert Mitchell, Professor of Psychology, Chair and Founder of Animal Studies Program, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Evan Mwangi, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University
  • Kari Weil, University Professor and Director of the College of Letters, Wesleyan University

In addition to invited speakers from around the world and ASI faculty, the Institute will be supported by Illinois faculty affiliated with the Institute from many different disciplines.

Application Deadline: February 28, 2020

Tuition and Other Fees

The tuition fee for the Institute (which covers registration, housing, library access, special events, receptions, and seminars) is $800. In addition, participants may choose to buy meals through the campus dining halls, with vegan and vegetarian options available. Students may also choose to eat at on- or off-campus restaurants. We encourage applicants to seek funding from their Universities to cover expenses, and once accepted can supply documentation of acceptance to assist them in doing so. Besides the financial scholarships offered (below), up to five full scholarships are available for graduate or professional students currently enrolled at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.


 We are offering a handful of scholarships to students at the advanced stages of their degree training who lack any summer support from their home institution or any external fellowship.  If you are interested in being considered for one of these scholarships, which covers the $800 tuition (and includes housing), please include a separate document, titled Request for Scholarship Assistance, along with our application stating your interest in the scholarship, and whether you also need help with travel. In this request, please include the following information:

  1. Are you applying for financial aid from the Summer Institute? Will it be for the full amount ($800) or a partial amount, and if so, how much?
  2. Are you currently employed? Full time? Part time?
  3. Are you applying for other support funds from your institution, other non-profits, or government sources which might underwrite your attendance?  If yes, when will you hear?
  4. Do you have any summer support from your department or home institution, etc.?
  5. What are your estimated travel expenses?
  6. Without a scholarship, will you not be able to attend the Institute?


Applicants must (1) be a doctoral student at the dissertation stage or early career scholars no more than four years past the Ph.D. or other terminal degree, or be a MFA, MSW, DVM, or JD student in the advanced stages of their degree; (2) have a commitment to advancing research in Human-Animal Studies; and (3), submit a follow-up report six months after the program’s completion. Applications are encouraged from the social sciences, humanities, arts, and natural sciences, as long as a part of the project is explicitly dealing with the human-animal relationship.


Applicants should email electronic copies of the following items to Please name all of your documents in the following manner: Smith_Proposal; Smith_Abstract; Smith_CV, Smith_Request_for_Scholarship, etc.

  1. Cover sheet with the applicant’s name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, institution name, date terminal degree is expected or was received, citizenship/nationality, and title of project. Will you need special disability accommodations to attend the institute?  If so, please indicate here so we can preplan.
  2. One paragraph abstract
  3. One-page (single spaced) project proposal that describes the project and indicates work completed on the project to date.
    1. Since the description will be considered by a panel of scholars from a variety of disciplines, it should be written for non-specialists.
    2. Project proposal should include clear details about what draws the candidate to Human-Animal Studies, how far the applicant is along in the dissertation or planned publication, and what part of the project the applicant expects to accomplish during the course of the program.
    3. Proposals should also indicate how your work deepens an understanding of human-animal relations and, if appropriate to the project, how it might have long-term impacts or practical implications that may help improve human-animal relations.
  4. Curriculum vitae of no more than 4 pages.
  5. Short writing sample of no more than 20 pages.
  6. Two letters of recommendation (pdfs of original letters recommended). These should be emailed by the referees themselves.

Applicants are responsible for contacting referees and supplying them with a description of the project, and making sure letters arrive on time. Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

Selection Process

The selection committee includes members from a range of disciplines connected to Human-Animal Studies.

Applications are evaluated on the basis of the contribution of the completed project to Human-Animal Studies, the qualifications of the applicant to complete the research, and how well the applicant’s project complements the other accepted projects. The Institute is dedicated to an inclusive vision of human-animal studies, and encourages applications from around the world and from scholars who are affiliated with communities traditionally under-represented in the academy and professions. Limited financial assistance may be available to those with financial need. Applicants from UIUC may be eligible for UIUC scholarships.

Applicants will be notified by e-mail March 2020.

About the Animals & Society Institute

The Animals & Society Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) independent research and educational organization that helps improve and expand knowledge about human-animal relationships in order to create safer and more compassionate communities for all.

In particular, ASI exposes students and faculty to the study of human-animal relationships, providing them access to quality information about Human-Animal Studies, including two peer-reviewed journals, Society & Animals and the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, the Human-Animal Studies Book Series, and other publications, as well as a wide variety of online materials to help faculty to develop and teach courses, and students to find the programs that suit their needs; provides information and resources to help those who are working in areas of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and treatment of animal abuse to accomplish their goals, and create and promote diversion and treatment programs to help human service providers identify, evaluate, treat and/or appropriately refer individuals who abuse animals, including the AniCare and AniCare Child programs; and provides evidence-based, theoretically sound and useful knowledge about human-animal relationships to those who work to affect policy and practices involving animals

About the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the flagship campus of the Illinois university system, is one of the top public research institutions in the world. Illinois is a 150-year-old public institution that has been home to numerous Nobel Prize winners, National Book award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and members of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as recent “MacArthur Genius Fellowship” awards. In addition, Illinois offers a nearly unparalleled opportunity for cross disciplinary interactions on campus, with campus experts in animal welfare, animals in literature, animals in anthropology, conservation politics, animal law, agribusiness, wildlife medicine, primatology, veterinary medicine, and more. Illinois’s Center for Advanced Study draws together, through competitions and organized events the most innovative and creative thinkers across the disciplines. One of the founders was John Bardeen, the only scholar to ever win the Nobel Prize in Physics twice. For 58 years, the Center has continued this legacy of innovation and excellence. Spanning the whole of the university, CAS is the only unit on campus that has the reach to unite the sciences, social sciences, liberal arts, fine arts, and professional schools like law and medicine, and will serve as the hosting unit for the Institute.

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