Human-Animal Studies: Courses in New Zealand

This is a list of colleges and universities in New Zealand 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.


Massey University

Sociology – Animals and Society.

Mary Murray

This course will explore relationships between animals and human societies historically and contemporarily. The paper will consider ways in which social, political, economic and cultural relationships, institutions and dynamics have shaped and have been shaped by the human-animal configuration. Major topics include the domestication of animals; hunting; farming; the use of animals in research; companion animals; conservation; animals in spectacle; sport and entertainment; animals and folklore; animals and film; the animal welfare and animal rights movements; and ethical issues in the human animal relationship. The paper is available to internal and distance learning students.


Unitec Institute of Technology

Anthrozoology: Animal Behavior and Welfare Science

Arnja Dale

This course aims to introduce students to the multidisciplinary field of Anthrozoology, illustrating the conceptual links between research in this relatively new academic field and use in understanding the interaction between animals and humans. Main Learning Outcomes include:

  •  Critically analyse the development of the relationship between man and animals.
  • Evaluate the effect of humans on animals used in various ways such as agriculture, sport, working animals.
  • Investigate the impact of human-animal interactions on human health and welfare.
  • Analyse the costs/benefits of animal-human interaction.

Topics include global attitudes to animals, medical and social consequences of human-animal interaction, history and sociology of human-animal interactions, gender effects on human-animal interaction, dog ownership and human health-related physical activity, investigating the link between companion animals, physical health and psychological health, use of animals in therapy for human illness (Animal Assisted Therapy), the concept of “attachment”, cruelty to animals and the link to domestic violence, companion animals as social facilitator, human perceptions and beliefs in respect of other animals, how some animals fit into human societies, and how these vary between cultures, and change over time.


University of Auckland

Law – Animals and the Law.

The first permanent undergraduate course on Animals and the Law ever taught in the Southern Hemisphere, this course was a resounding success in 2006. Sixty-five students enrolled and learned about the manner in which animals are treated by New Zealand law.

Society’s treatment of animals and the legal framework that regulates the existence of animals that live with and all around us is a matter of emerging concern. For centuries, animals were treated as nothing more than property, and during the latter half of the twentieth century, it became apparent that this model did not adequately reflect the fact that animals are beings who suffer, and are dependent upon humanity for survival.

Recognition of this fact has forced the law to develop new frameworks in which to address the needs of animals and also the desire to create a better moral vision of the human-animal relationship. This course will examine the history, philosophy, and ethical foundation of humanity’s treatment of animals and ask whether our current treatment accords with our stated goal of preventing unnecessary cruelty to animals. We will also consider whether a new legal paradigm is required in order to give proper recognition to the interests of animals.

As an introductory course on animals and the law, it is not possible to cover every aspect of this topic. Instead, the course focuses on the theme of animal welfare, and considers whether the animal welfare movement has been successful in helping to protect animals from cruelty and exploitation. Topics include the development of the humane movement; consideration of whether all animals should be treated as property and the justification for such an approach; issues such as standing (whether people should be able to raise legal claims on behalf of animals), the development of animal protection legislation and what it does for animals; and the emergence of a concept of animal rights. Several classes focus on the use of animals in medical and cosmetic research, hunting, and factory farming. Certain international agreements on animals will also be considered.


University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury PhD in Human-Animal Studies

Students undertaking the PhD in Human-Animal Studies (PhD HUAN) at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand will work with supervisors drawn from a pool of over a dozen academic staff working in many different areas, and will be part of the lively and inclusive research culture of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies. Available areas of supervision include but are not limited to: animals in literature, popular culture and the visual arts; critical studies of agriculture, food production, pet-keeping and wildlife management; animals and environments; multispecies ethnographies; meat-eating, vegetarianism and veganism; animals and emergency/disaster management; animals in theory and philosophy; animals in history; postcolonial animal studies; animals and the history of science.

Courses include:

Cultural Studies: From Bambi to Kong: Animals in American Popular Culture

Annie Potts

This course examines the influence of environmental, indigenous, African-American and gender politics on American popular cultural representations of animals and nature. Topics include the representation of human-animals relationships in cinema and television (including animation, comedy, reality TV, horror and science fiction genres); images of whales in literature, the environmental movement and eco-tourism; dinosaur iconography; the use of animals in art; and cultural practices such as hunting, pet-keeping, factory farming, and zoos. Course objectives include:

  • to trace the influence of competing ideas and narratives about nature and animals, and the human relationship with nature and animals, in a range of past and contemporary popular cultural genres, with a special focus on horror, science fiction and fantasy film, reality TV, and animation
  • to analyze the ways in which popular representations of the “natural’, the ‘animal’ and the ‘human’ shift in relation to specific historical periods, cultural and economic events; are constructed in particularly gendered and racialized ways (and in position to ideas about ‘culture’); and are variously represented in political discourses (eg environmental, feminist, indigenous politics)
  • to survey the impact upon popular cultural representations of social movements (eg the environmental movement) that seek to redefine the relationship between humans and nature, and humans and animals

English and Cultural Studies – Reading Animals: From Beast Fables to the Graphic Novel

Annie Potts

This course will explore the role of imagery and narrative in constituting historical and contemporary conceptions of “animality” and speciesism across a range of texts and media (including bestiaries and folklore; field guides and natural histories; wildlife documentaries; zoo display; activist art; science fiction and graphic novels; “human versus beasts” and reality TV shows).

English: Writing Nature, Representing Animals.

Philip Armstrong

This course will explore how animals enter into culture, and how our encounters with other species shape, and are shaped by, our cultural practices and representations. The class will focus on various species or categories of animals: ape, whale, sheep, moa, dog, cat, pig, horse, rabbit, chicken, possum, human being …; pest, pet, predator, prey, livestock, specimen …. In this way the main themes and methods of the Human-Animal Studies will be covered.

Sociology and Anthropology: Multispecies Anthropology: Other Species in Human Life

Piers Locke

Multispecies Anthropology introduces a new subfield concerned with the interconnectedness of humans and other life forms. Introducing students to perspectives that extend anthropological inquiry beyond humanity, it argues that the human condition cannot be understood in isolation from other species populating shared environments. On this course students will consider the dualist ontologies that have configured Western thinking about humans and their others through posthumanist philosophy. Investigating the limits of anthropocentrism, and considering the meaningful agency of nonhuman others, the course considers how nonhuman entanglements with human lives, landscapes, and technologies might be theoretically incorporated into accounts of human existence. The course surveys new avenues of research being opened up by multispecies approaches, introducing students to cutting edge studies of mammalian interspecies intimacies, to intersections with insects, fish, fungi, and microbes, to issues of extinction and invasion, and to the implications of other species for human bodies, economies, foods, and technologies.

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