ASI-UIUC Summer Institute for Human-Animal Studies

The Animals & Society Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  have, since 2017, co-hosted a new Human-Animal Studies Summer Institute program for advanced graduate students and early career scholars pursuing research in Human-Animal Studies. This program is focused on graduate students and those in the first few years post-Ph.D., and enables 20-30 participants to work on their dissertations or publications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign within the Center for Advanced Study, for one intensive week.

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 plenary lectures by distinguished speakers, followed by afternoon seminars devoted to discussion of participants’ work. 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, which takes place in mid-July.

Summer Institute Directors

The Institute is directed by Jane Desmond, Resident Director, Kim Marra, Gala Argent, 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, Collegiate Fellow, 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), 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. Her original autobiographical solo performance Horseback Views inspired her prize-winning essay “Riding, Scarring, Knowing: A Queerly Embodied Performance Historiography” (Theatre Journal 64.4, December 2012). She has published numerous other articles on historical equestrian performance and is currently completing a digital arts and humanities project, The Pull of Horses.  She is also 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 & Society Institute. He is founding editor of Society & 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.



Each year’s Institute also features between 5-7 guest speakers.

Tuition and Other Fees

The tuition fee for the Institute (which covers registration, housing, library access, special events, receptions, and seminars) is $800. Students can choose to buy food from the campus dining hall, can eat at restaurants off campus, or can buy food to prepare in the dorm kitchen. 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.


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 note along with our application stating your interest in the scholarships, and whether or not you also need help with travel.


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 be a MSW or JD student in the advanced stages of their degree, OR professional degree students seeking a degree in law, veterinary medicine, public policy, and so on; (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, and natural sciences, as long as a part of the project is explicitly dealing with the human-animal relationship. If you are interested in the Institute and unsure if you are eligible, please contact the directors.

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

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, the most innovative and creative thinkers across the disciplines. Founded by John Bardeen, the only scholar to ever win two Nobel prizes in two different disciplines, the Center continues 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.


See how the 2017 Summer Institute went!

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this website is copyright © 2022 The Animals and Society Institute. Please visit to find out more about our reprint and use policies.

Share Us Online