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Minnesota Courses

Macalester College


The Rights of NonHuman Animals

Diane Michelfelder

In this course, we will be exploring fundamental philosophical questions associated with extending human rights to nonhuman animals, as well as philosophical contributions to a number of lively debates on this matter. Our first question can be posed by borrowing from the title of James Nickel’s classic work in human rights: How can we make sense of the idea that nonhuman animals have rights? What are the reasons that can be given in favor of recognizing such rights, and what are some of the objections to this idea? What role does the concept of personhood play in these discussions? From here we will go on to look at debates over animal rights from two different perspectives. The first will be the perspective of animal species. If at least some human rights ought to be extended to at least some nonhuman animals, to which ones and what rights should they have? Our second perspective will be that of setting, including animals in the wild, research lab, and both factory and non-factory farms. With regard to the latter we will ask how the issue of the rights of nonhuman animals is also an issue of environmentalism, particularly with respect to climate change. At a number of points along the way, we will pause to reflect on how granting rights to nonhuman animals would impact public policies and everyday habits of living. In considering these questions, it is anticipated that you will not only gain greater critical insight into what it may mean for nonhuman animals to have rights but for what it means for us as rational animals to have them as well.


Environmental Ethics

Diane Michelfelder


Minnesota State University, Mankato

The Human-Animal Studies minor investigates animals themselves, as well as past and present relationships between human and non-human animals. Drawing from the social sciences and the humanities, it seeks to spark new conversations about ethical and moral concerns surrounding animals, the protection of animals, and representations of animals. The minor will be especially beneficial for students pursuing a broad range of animal-related careers, including but not limited to careers in animal shelters, sanctuaries, veterinary centers, research labs, zoos, farms, and wildlife management.


St. Cloud State University


Environmental Ethics

Jordan Curnutt

Critically evaluate the ethical dimensions of environmental and natural resource issues. Identify moral values in alternative solutions and encourage reasoned defense of proposed actions.

Topics in Ethics: Animal Ethics

Jordan Curnutt

Examines moral issues arising from our treatment of nonhuman animals. Questions explored include: What is the moral status of animals? Do they have moral rights? Do animals feel pain? Are they conscious? Do they have desires and beliefs? What are the moral implications of attributing certain mental states to animals? Is there a moral problem with euthanizing companion animals?

Moral Problems and Theories

Paul Neiman

Human Relations & Multicultural Education

Human and Animals Relations/Rights

University of Minnesota

Asian Languages and Literature

The Animal

Christina Marran

Veterinary Medicine

Perspectives: Interrelationships of People and Animals in Society

Pam Hand

This course explores various aspects of the interrelationships of people and animals in society today, including the ecological, environmental, cultural, economic, social, psychological, and health/medical dimensions of these interrelationships. Multidisciplinary knowledge of how and why these factors interact is considered to be essential to a better understanding of what is often called the human-animal bond.

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