North Carolina Courses

Appalachian State University

Animal Studies Minor

The Animal Studies minor (18 semester hours) offers students the opportunity to learn about the lives of nonhuman-animals and to investigate the representation in human cultures of their diversity and complexity. As our global environmental crisis intensifies and the vulnerability and interrelation of all life systems becomes increasingly apparent, the interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies has emerged, bringing together scholars in the sciences, social sciences and humanities to address past and present relations between human and nonhuman animals. This minor provides an understanding of the concept of the animal by examining how our relationships with nonhuman animals are mediated by culture. Complementing a broad array of majors in the sciences and humanities, the minor explores the social, political and ecological effects our attitudes toward other animals have in and on the world. This minor helps prepare students for careers and/or graduate education in a number of possible fields including, but not limited to:

  • wildlife rehabilitation
  • park services
  • conservation
  • animal advocacy
  • non-profit work
  • veterinary medicine
  • primate anthropology
  • animal-assisted therapies
  • sustainable farming
  • publishing, advertising, creative writing and/or professional writing
  • cultural studies
  • teaching on any level

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Animal Planet: Animal Encounters in the Age of Globalization

Jeanne Dubino

This course explores the ways globalization is altering the nature of human-animal encounters. We will examine many kinds of global encounters, including those arising from companionship (pets); travel, hunting, and sport; food and consumption (e.g., livestock); and science (e.g., lab animals). We will start by considering an especially modern way of engaging with animals-through the symbolic, the artistic, and the visual (representations and shows like Animal Planet and its spin-offs). As we enter the world’s sixth major species extinction, we will consider how, in the face of the decreasing diversity of species, we increasingly engage with animals through representations of them. We will look at a range of media from around the world that address how globalization affects and informs human-animal encounters: fiction, critical essays from a range of disciplines (ethology [animal behavior], anthropology, history, archeology, etc.), travel literature, TV series, movies, cartoons, stuffed animals, and more. Globalization is defined in part by increasing interconnectedness and interdependency, and animal studies are especially concerned with relationships, symbiosis, and environments. We will consider the interchanges between the local and the global; that is, some of the ways that local cultural attitudes toward animals are being affected by globalization, and how globalization is affecting localized beliefs and practices.

The Lives of Animals

An interdisciplinary introduction to the intersection of the lives and communities of human and non-human animals, including animals for food, animals in the wild, and animals as human companions. Special focus is on ethical questions and dimensions of these intersections and relationships.

Cultural Studies: Representing Animals in Irish Literature and Culture

Kathryn Kirkpatrick

From the shape-shifters of the sagas and the simian Paddies of the nineteenth century to the Celtic Tiger of recent years, non-human animals have figured powerfully in portrayals of Irishness.  These portrayals tell us a great deal about the ways discourses of animality construct the human, and often, the sub-human.   Indeed, Maureen O’Connor has argued that the constructed proximity of the Irish to animals justified the colonial use of force to subdue and contain them.  Conversely, making the ideological connections between the oppression of women, the Irish, and animals, prominent nineteenth-century animal advocates from Ireland like Richard Martin of Galway, worked for both human and animal liberatory practices.  In this class we will work at the intersections of Cultural Studies, Irish studies, and Critical Animal Studies, examining the relationship between humans and animals within Irish writing and cultural production.  Texts will include Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City, Steve Baker’s Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation, Lisa Kemmerer’s Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice, and selected Irish poems, stories, plays, and films.  Requirements include short essays, a presentation, and a final paper.

Barton College

General Education

Animal Rights

Robert Cagna

The class will look at animal rights through philosophical, religious, legal and cultural perspectives. Students will be exposed to different ways animals and humans have interacted throughout history.

Duke Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Critical Animal Studies in Art and Visual Culture

The visual culture constructed around animals, including images of animals from prehistoric to contemporary representations, the role of visualization in animal rights and survival, animals as human totems and stuffed toys, portrayals of animal consciousness and debates about speciesism, in the analysis of the cultural objectification and societal subjectification of animals. One course.

Duke University

Women’s Studies

Religion and Moral Status of Animals

Kathy Rudy

Recognizing that religions are key shapers of people’s worldviews and formulators of their most cherished values, this course seeks to understand how religions help carve out the boundary between human and non-human animals, and instruct humans in the ethical treatment of animals. We will survey the teachings and practices toward animals in various religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and various indigenous and Native peoples spiritual practices. As part of the natural world, some religions deify animals and/or represent transcendence in animal form. At the same time, other religions can so promote the superiority of humanity that earth and animals are left with little to no moral consideration. This class will examine the formal and informal positions various religions have taken up in relation to the non-human. How is the struggle for animal liberation framed in each tradition? How does it relate to the way other disenfranchised beings are treated within that religion? Are their links between a religion’s treatment of animals, and its treatment of women, racial and ethnic minorities, or other “outsiders”? How would those links be described?


Animals and Ethics: Rights, Welfare, and Beyond

Kathy Rudy

The goal of this class is to survey different approaches to ethical thinking in relation to non-human animals.  In the world named but not captured by the term “animal rights,” philosophical, ethical, and legal theories once sanctioned for use only in relation to humans are now being applied to animals with a varying array of outcomes and conclusions.  This course will examine different strategies of animal advocacy as they are manifested in Kantianism, contract based theories, utilitarianism, welfarism. We will also read works that critique all Western philosophies as inadequate for dealing with non-human animals.  The animal advocacy movement is filled with activists, philosophers, political theorists, feminists, lawyers, and representatives of many different intellectual traditions who disagree about the status of animals, about whether or not we should eat them or wear them or hunt them or train them for entertainment or keep them in our homes.  We’ll investigate these conflicts throughout this class by looking at the needs of particular animals.  While most other social movement of the twentieth century had their academic origins in disciplines like history or literature, animal advocacy is centered squarely in ethics and philosophy.  We’ll study many of those originating texts and compare and contrast differing methods and approaches.  Moreover, we’ll try to understand the differences between animal rights and other liberation movements (like women’s rights and civil rights) in order to see why ethics plays such an important role.

Nature Culture Gender

Kathy Rudy

This course studies the implications and effects of current understandings of human identity, and how it forms our perceptions of other animals, the natural environment, and our own bodies.  Over the last twenty years, the academy has engaged itself in rigorous interrogations of heretofore “natural” sites of difference.  Formations such as gender, race, sexual preference, ethnicity once thought to be hardwired in the body are now being theorized as culturally constructed.  The most recent addition to this scholarship challenges the distinction between human and non-human; the figure of the great ape is coming into focus as the newest agenda in this project. Reflecting on how we treat other animals-and in particular our closest relatives, the great apes-can tell us much about what we think about ourselves.  How far should we go in extending the boundaries of the human concept of morality?  Do the subjectivities and emotional lives of other beings exist or matter? Does respecting only that which is similar to us imply that we only take our own human nature as the pivotal reference of value?  If being human sets the standard of value for everything on earth, what are the consequences of such thinking for non-humans?  How should we behave toward that which is radically different, and why?  What we eat and what we do not eat, what we kill and do not kill, what we define as cannibalism and what falls outside that definition reveal insights about ourselves, our own bodies, and our own subjectivities.  We will study the intersection of great ape/human boundary and gender theory in a number of different ways.  Do women relate to nonhuman animals differently than men do?  Why?   What kinds of gendered behaviors do primatologists see in the various great apes themselves, and how have those narratives been appropriated by culture?  What stories in culture reify our sense of the “gentle giant” gorillas, or the combative chimps, or the matriarchal sex-crazed bonobos, or the independent and isolated orangs?  Are these stories really about them, or us, or both?  Are male great apes great hunters or themselves hunted?  Are female great apes caring nurturers or infanticidal murderers?  Do different primatologists see different things?  How does the gendering of great apes relate to the gendering of humans?  What kinds of experiments do we perform on these animals and what do we gain from them? What are justifications for the ways that we use them and how might we correct some of these problems? If they really are more like “us” than we could have possibly imagined, do they need our attention as the next oppressed “minority?”

East Carolina University


Ethics and Animals

Richard McCarty

The primary goal of the course is to learn more about ethics or morality from considering the significance of animals in moral deliberation. So in thinking about whether animals have rights, for example, we shall also need to ask wider questions such as, what are rights and how do they fit into the system of morality? Questions such as these lead us to investigate theoretical approaches to the study of morality in general.


Guilford College

Religious Studies

Animals in Religion

Eric D. Mortensen

In this course, we will examine the differing roles and relationships animals play in a variety of religious traditions. We begin the semester with a study of ancient humans and their religious relationship with the natural world, and look in depth at the religious roles of animals in Native American traditions of the Pacific Northwest. We will then address animals in Abrahamic thought and in various religious cultures across the globe. Some attention will be paid to so-called “world religions” including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. However, we will pay considerable attention to the roles of non-human animals in more “local” traditions in Native America, areas in the Himalayas, India, China, Africa, and Circumpolar regions. We will use these particular cultural histories as paradigms in the consideration of several themes and topics. This class will take as its central theme the possibility that animals can be seen as subjects, rather than as objects. We will also devote several weeks of the course to themes including: the ritual function of animals in human religious worlds; differing understandings of animals’ relationships with the divine; deep ecology; sacrifice; divination; anthropomorphism and zoomorphism; animal consciousness and intelligence; magic; creationism, evolution, and scientific discourse; animal rights; and the relationship between human children and animals. Central to our work will be the evaluation of theoretical models of comparison and their relevance to the study of animals in the history of religion.


Animal Minds and Ethical Matters

Nancy Daukas

Lees-McRae College Wildlife Rehabilitation Program

Lees-McRae College offers a degree program in Wildlife rehabilitation, with two concentrations in the biology degree under Wildlife Studies. Students attend Lees-McRae College and major in Biology with a concentration in either wildlife biology or wildlife rehabilitation. The wildlife biology program is a naturalist major, while the wildlife rehabilitation program is a unique, hands on, experientially based program where students work with injured and orphaned wildlife, including working with non-releasable wildlife ambassadors in education.


North Carolina State University

Interdisciplinary Studies

Animals in the Global Community

Nell Kriesberg

In this seminar, students will explore the growing interdisciplinary field of Human Animal Studies (HAS) within a global context. Over the last decade, there has been an increasing focus on the complex, global dimensions of the relationships between human and non-human species, both in terms of public awareness and as a course of study in academia. In this course you will be examining these complex territories through an interdisciplinary lens, becoming more familiar with the interdisciplinary approach. The two disciplines we will focus on the most will be geography and philosophy (specifically, ethics). Historically, animals have been tied to place: they are in specific landscapes, and we have related to them as part of their habitats as we move into the areas where they live. There is a rich tradition of animal studies in the discipline of geography and so our course will explore classic ideas of space, place, and place-less-ness, as well as those of boundaries and borders. In examining where non-human animals live –forests as part of the larger ecological system, areas of ocean depletion, zoos, feeding lots, and cages – the discipline of geography offers insights into the complexity of relationships between ourselves and other species. In ethics, the challenge of species valuation is part of an ongoing larger discussion of territory and distribution as land available to species other than humans dwindles. What place do animals have in an environment that is dominated/controlled by humans? We will investigate classic themes in applied ethics that have focused on the ‘right relationship’ between human and non-human animals in our Western tradition, themes such as vulnerable populations, the Moral Community, justice, the larger theme of the individual and the common good, as well as different ethical stances in our investigation of the human/non-human encounter. We can ask if our classic ethical approaches are robust enough for the current global situation. We may understand what the idea of justice is for our species, but is there such a thing as inter-species justice? Should there be?


Representing Animals

John Morillo

How and why have people represented animals in words and images? How has it changed from the classical period to the present? What do different fields suggest can be known about animals, why does that knowledge matter, and to whom? Are they granted consciousness, ethical importance, spirit, or independent agency? Are they seen as more suitable a subject of knowledge for children or for adults? Do they have a place and stake in human politics, and if so, why? Readings will necessarily be selective rather than exhaustive, and will include examples from fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and from English, American, and some other literatures in translation. As a course grounded in literature and taught by an English professor, the importance of how these fields write about their animal subjects and construct them rhetorically as objects of knowledge and interest will be central, but visual representations (film, video, TV, advertising) will complement the readings.


Open Seminar in Research Ethics

Gary Comstock

This is an online course in research ethics that has a module on the use of animals in research.

Human Nature

Gary Comstock

This is going to be a new course that will deal in part with ethical issues having to do with the treatment of animals

Research Ethics

Gary Comstock

This course deals in part with the use of animals in research.

Tri County Community College Animal Assisted Interactions Concentration

The Human Services Technology/Animal Assisted Interactions concentration prepares individuals for entry-level positions in service organizations providing animal interactions. The curriculum prepares students to incorporate specially selected animals in goal-directed interactions to improve human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. Course work includes a history of the field of animal interventions, relevant scientific evidence regarding the benefits of interactions, theoretical models, application of animal interventions and current trends. Students gain skills in measurement methodology and in animal handling and management. Graduates should qualify for employment in mental health, youth services, social services, rehabilitation, correction, elder, and educational agencies. Upon completion of the degree, students may be eligible for certification through national or international organizations. The Human Services Technology/Animal Assisted Interactions Certificate requires the applicant to have a professional degree in Education, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Psychology, Speech Therapy, Social Work, or other related field with current accreditation or license for the state in which they practice and 2 years of experience in the field.

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.

Peace and Justice Studies

Animal Rights; Human Obligations

Robert Eckstein and John Perry Casey

The course involves an examination of the moral status of animals and the descriptive and normative recognition of human obligations toward animals, as determined by cultural perceptions and philosophical schools of thought, particularly utilitarianism and deontology.  We will consider the ways animals are used to serve human ends, e.g., food, clothing, entertainment, medical and other kinds of research, etc.; proclaimed human moral entitlements to use animals; religious attitudes toward animals; legal protections; animal welfare and animal rights.

Environmental Ethics
Ethical Theory and Practical Issues

John Perry Casey

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