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HAS Courses in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

This is a list of colleges and universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland which 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 course that the instructor will be covering.


Berlin Institute/Institute for Animal Protection and Animal Behavior

The Institute has courses on Animal Experimentation, including Alternative Methods, on Animal Welfare Laws for Veterinarians in Germany, as well as Animal Welfare Legislation Worldwide, on Indicators for Welfare Problems in Livestock Husbandry and practical courses in Surgery and Anesthesia.

Oldenburg University

Primate Re-Visions

Michalea “Michi” Koch

“Some apes, it seems, are more equal than others,” remarks astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) in the 1968 film adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s novel Planet of the Apes (1963). The remark points to one of the key questions in “Primate Re-Visions”: the relationship between human and non-human primates. Over the course of the term, participants will look at a range of (pop) cultural representations of ‘apes’ from Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” (1917) to King Kong (1933), Boulle’s Planet, and from a documentary (The Lost Film of Dian Fossey, 2003) and the feature film Gorillas in the Mist (1999, starring Sigourney Weaver) to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2013).

University of Tübingen

Tierethik (Animal Ethics)

Thilo Hagendorff

Die Idee des Menschen, so beschreiben es die Philosophen Adorno und Horkheimer in der Dialektik der Aufklärung kritisch, drückt sich in der Unterscheidung zum Tier aus. Das Tier nimmt in der symbolischen Ordnung westlicher Gesellschaften die Position des „Anderen” ein. Die Tierethik hat es sich dementsprechend zur Aufgabe gesetzt, die moralische Marginalisierung der Tierwelt aufzuheben. Es geht um die Auflösung der Exklusionsbewegung, welche Tiere als Nicht-Subjekte, als „nacktes Leben” (Agamben) darstellt. Die Tierethik fordert, dass die Sphäre der moralischen Rücksichtnahme inklusiver gestaltet wird, wobei der anthropozentrische Zuschnitt etablierter Moralen überwunden werden soll. Unabhängig von den hier angesiedelten klassischen tierethischen Überlegungen erhält die Tierethik eine neue Aktualität, wenn man beachtet, dass es heute weniger um die Frage geht, ob Tiere überhaupt in ethische Überlegungen einbezogen werden sollen, sondern wie und wie weitgehend sie Berücksichtigung erfahren sollen. Gleichsam geht es weniger um die Ausarbeitung möglichst elaborierter ethischer Argumentationsfiguren, sondern um die Erkennung, Bewertung und möglicherweise Überwindung von kulturellen Distanzierungs- und Diskriminierungsmechanismen, welche insbesondere das Verhältnis zu „Nutztieren” prägen. Dementsprechend wird das Seminar sowohl der Erschließung klassischer tierethischer Theorien dienen als auch der Diskussion neuerer Studien aus dem Bereich der Critical-Animal-Studies. Zugleich sollen Texte Beachtung finden, welche sich gegenüber der typischen normativen Stoßrichtung tierethischer Abhandlungen kritisch verhalten, um so zu einem ausgeglichenen Bild des Argumentationsfeldes zu gelangen. Das Seminar richtet sich insbesondere an Lehramtsstudierende der Philosophie, aber auch an Studierende aus den Neuphilologien. Es ist für das EPG-II Studium anrechenbar. Es soll angehenden Lehrer_innen ermöglichen, bei tierethischen Fragestellungen kompetent vermitteln zu können.

University of Kassel

Animals and Cultural History

Mieke Roscher

This course is designed as an introduction to Human-Animal Studies. Students will get to know the theoretical and conceptual foundations of a cultural historiography of animals, propagated by HAS. Thus, problems as well as benefits of examining human-animal relationships from a cultural historical perspective will be analysed. Drawing from recent research in the cultural representation of animals, some key topics of animal history will be addressed. It will be discussed whether or not the writing of such a history implies a fundamental shift in the animals? representation and if the theoretical and methodical framework provided by animal historians will suffice to incorporate the animal in this narration. Major themes include the historical reflection of the nature and form of the animal-human relationship in the process of domestication, in animal husbandry, pet-keeping and in animal exhibitions in zoological gardens. Also, the changing representation and portrayal of animals in media and literature will be looked at.



University of Innsbruck

Human-Animal Studies: The Human-Animal Relationship at the Focus of Academic Research

Gabriela Kompatscher-Gufler

Research into the multidimensional relationships between humans and nonhuman animals has become a respected scientific discipline that is attracting a lot of attention. The issue of “the human and the animal” can no longer be ignored in modern scientific discourse. The 21st century will (have to) bring a fundamental revision of the relationship between humans and nonhuman animals. The human being will no longer be able to pass either practically or ethically the scientific insights with regard to nonhuman beings (e.g. primatology). The human being is only a (little) part of the “community of creatures”. This leads to the conviction that this interdisciplinary lecture series not only focuses on an issue that has been central to biology, ecology and ethology, but also one that is increasingly important in the social sciences and the humanities as well as of central concern for the general public – as indicated by the enormous interest of the students in our lecture series in fall 2012/13 and 2014/15 (nearly 1000 registrations). This lecture series will analyze the complex relationships between human and nonhuman animals from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will gain a broad insight into a range of scientific concepts and approaches to the topic. At the same time a critical attitude and the courage to question longstanding paradigms will be fostered.

Human-Animal Studies in didactic and pedagogic contexts

Gabriela Kompatscher-Gufler

The human- animal relationship as a complex phenomenon increasingly attracts interest in the academic field, not only in the natural sciences but notably in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The human-animal studies analyse the human-animal relationship in an interdisciplinary and critical way. They thereby connect society and science and provide possibilities for knowledge transfer and social change. In this course we will develop possible options on how to approach topics like the various human-animal relationships in the classroom and other educational contexts.

Messerli Institute

The Messerli Institute offers an Interdisciplinary Masters and PhD in Human-Animal Interactions (IMHAI). The key components of the Master’s Programme  comprise teaching and practical knowledge application from the following major  disciplines:

  • Behavioural and Cognition Biology
  • Comparative Medicine
  • Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare including Legal Framework of Human- Animal interactions
  • Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Ethics

Compulsory Module I: Animal Behaviour and Cognition

Students completing this compulsory module will have: a basic insight into the evolution, individual development, function and physiological (neuronal and hormonal) mechanisms of behavioural patterns in animals and humans; the ability to understand cognitive and emotional processes as biological phenomena and the significance of the evolutionary, comparative approach in the research of these phenomena; thorough knowledge of certain species and individual specific, life-relevant issues related to selected animal species – in particular those of canines – and their individual and social competences to solve these problems with the help of
learning, memory and thinking processes; the ability to understand the relationship between genetics and environment, as well as nature and nurture and the effects of domestication on behaviour and cognition; knowledge about the role of early socialisation, life-long learning and personality, as well as the practical significance of interacting with animals; knowledge about the ways animals express themselves with regards to  regulatory needs, motivation and conflicts; the ability to apply knowledge on cognition and animal behaviour to evaluate and shape human-animal interaction;  the relevant methodical insight (basic statistics, experimental design) and skills
(observation, training and testing animals) to conceptualise and conduct
behavioural and cognitive experiments independently and interpret, present and
publish the findings;  the ability to recognise relationships of this field with other biological fields (e.g. genetics, evolutionary biology, neurobiology, animal physiology), with other cognitive science fields (e.g. philosophy of mind, psychology,
sociology, artificial intelligence research, linguistics), and with other fields in the context of human-animal interaction (animal husbandry and animal welfare, comparative medicine, philosophy and ethics).

Compulsory Module II: Comparative Medicine

Students completing this compulsory module will have: basic skills in the correct use and interpretation of scientific methods and laboratory technologies; special knowledge that enables them to support and evaluate laboratory research findings to use them on human and animal patients; comprehensive knowledge about differences and similarities in humans and animals with regards to their anatomy, physiology and genetics, as well as the associated diagnostic principles; a basic understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of the most important diseases in animals and humans, as well as basic knowledge of analogue animal models and 3R methods; basic knowledge of methods used to treat diseases and improve human and animal health using therapeutic and preventive measures;  the ability to assess methods in non-clinical, biomedical research and reproduce them in research projects according to the 3Rs (reduction, replacement, refinement);  knowledge of various therapeutic strategies and an overview of the most important stages and obstacles from claiming intellectual property, proof-of concept studies, GMP production and clinical studies to marketing sound knowledge for appropriately evaluating the suitability of animal and human studies from a medical point of view

Compulsory Module III: Animal Husbandry and Welfare including Legal Framework of Human-Animal Interactions

Students completing this compulsory model will have: the ability to evaluate the quality of animal husbandry and animal welfare, as well as human-animal relationships, based on scientific concepts and methods and with respect to its relevance to animal welfare, in addition to developing the ability to work possible improvements out; basic knowledge of species-specific behaviour in selected domestic animals, based on the functional systems of behavior; the ability to recognise the most significant behavioural disorders; the ability to deduce the standards required for keeping and interacting with animals from their normal behavior; basic knowledge of the most important production and husbandry systems commonly used in practice; the ability to identify the ethological and psychological foundations for differences in human-animal relationship and describe their significance for human and animal welfare; the ability to present recent studies on animal welfare and human-animal relationship and assess them critically, as well as carry out projects in this field using the appropriate methods; basic knowledge of the legal framework relating to animal welfare and animal experiments; the ability to evaluate practical questions in animal husbandry and the use of animals from a legal point of view; the competence to reflect on the quality of the legal norms relevant for animal protection given the tense situation between animal-ethical standards, social requirements and the implications of scientific findings.

Compulsory Module IV: Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Ethics

Students completing this compulsory model will have: basic knowledge in theoretical and practical philosophy, overview of philosophical methodologies and general philosophical questions; insight into the most important contemporary positions in philosophy of science; the ability to reflect methodically on one’s own science-based practice; basic knowledge of the most important ethical theories, including applied ethics; insight into contemporary debates on ethics in human-animal interaction; the ability to reflect on common animal husbandry practices and ethical aspects
in relation to veterinary medicine; and the ability to analyze ethical problems methodically and develop ethically sound solutions.

University of Graz

That’s All Folks: The Fascinating with Animals in American Literature and Culture

Perhaps more than other countries, the USA have developed a cult around animals, starting in the 1890s. Since Ernest Thompson Seton’s Wild Animals I Have Known (1898) and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild (1903), hordes of dogs, horses and other animals have populated the fictional realms of cinema, literature, and television. Disney films have added numerous animals to this list, in a long series of animated films beginning with Dumbo (1940) and Bambi (1942), leading all the way to Finding Nemo (2003), and a number of documentaries, from The Living Desert (1953) to the recent Monkey Kingdom (2015). What could explain this obsession with anthropomorphized animals who are sometimes seen as symbols of Darwinist survival strategies (e.g., Seton’s gray wolf Lobo), personifications of the human desire for acceptance (as in E.B. White’s 1945 tale Stuart Little) or even civil-rights activists (as the speaking horse ‘Mister Ed’ from the 1960s CBS sitcom)? The course will also look at representations of animal testing, the food industry, and animal aggression, as well as ecocritical approaches involving non-human creatures.

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