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Animal Rights and Wrongs (Honors)

The history of our relationship with animals is as long as human history itself, and the relationship is so tightly woven that the story of who we are literally cannot be told without talking about animals. But the relationship is a vexed one. We are animals, and indeed the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees are one-tenth of those between mice and rats; though the average human's abilities in mathematics, invention, and the use of language far exceed those of a chimpanzee. We tenderly pamper many cats and dogs; while we coldly slaughter other animals-including roughly 10,000,000,000 land animals annually for food just in the U.S. We systematically exterminated grey wolves from the western U.S. in the early 1900s; and then we reintroduced them from Canada in the late 1900s.

This course explores this long, complex relationship. It will give us insight into how we ought to treat animals, and will also provide a powerful lens through which to see ourselves. It will draw from a variety of academic disciplines, and use a range of media types, including religious holy texts, academic journals, newspapers, magazines, short stories, undercover videos, professional documentaries, and even some in-person interaction with actual animals.