Why do humans keep pets and at the same time raise animals for food? What are the psychological and moral complexities that characterize our relationships with animals? What is the impact of human-animal interactions on the health and well-being of people and animals? How do we assess the relative welfare of animals under a variety of circumstances? This program is an interdisciplinary study of human (anthro) and animal (zoo) interaction. This topic of inquiry will be used to study general biology, evolutionary biology, zoology, anthropology, and philosophy. Through field trips, guest speakers, reading, writing, and discussion, students will become familiar with the multiple and often paradoxical ways we relate to companion animals, animals for sport, zoo animals, wildlife, research animals, and food animals. We will use our collective experiences, along with science-based and value-based approaches, to critically examine the ever-changing role of animals in society.
We will begin the quarter by focusing on the process of animal domestication in different cultures from an evolutionary and historical perspective. Through the formal study of animal ethics, students will also become familiar with different philosophical positions on the use of animals. Physiology and neuroscience will be used to investigate the physical and mental lives of animals, while simultaneously exploring domestic animal behavior. Students will explore the biological basis and psychological aspects of the human-animal bond. They will then study the science of animal welfare and complete a final project in which they will apply their scientific and ethical knowledge to a controversial and contemporary animal welfare question. Students will finish the quarter with a multiple-day trip to University of British Columbia, where they will visit with faculty and students doing active research in animal welfare science.
Students will be expected to read primary literature in such diverse fields as animal science, ethology, neurobiology, sociobiology, anthropology, and philosophy. Student success in this program will depend on commitment to in-depth understanding of complex topics and an ability to combine empirical knowledge and philosophical reflection.