A proposal to create a minor in Animal Studies has been unanimously adopted by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and the Faculty Executive Committee, and will now move to a final faculty vote by Thursday 19 may. Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Elan Abrell submitted the proposal on Friday, February 18.
Under the current proposal, completion of the minor will require taking a minimum of five animal studies credits and completing an internship in one of four areas: animal care and conservation, politics and law, art and media or veterinary work. PHIL215: “Humans, Animals, and Nature,” taught by Gruen, is the only required course, with students choosing from animal studies courses to complete to complete the other four required credits.
Animal studies courses have been offered as a cluster on WesMaps since 2014, but completion of these courses is not recognized on student diplomas. Gruen and Abrell decided to offer a minor in animal studies so that students could have an official credential for their studies.
“I’ve worked with a number of different professors, visitors, and postdocs over the past 15 years now,” Gruen said. “I think part of the idea of the proposal was now that it’s a good time to have a minor as a more organized way for students to show that they’ve taken a coordinated set of courses.”
In a letter advocating for the creation of a minor in animal studies, Ava Purdue ’23 echoed that sentiment.
“The Animal Studies “Cluster” at Wesleyan is a start, but what does it mean on a resume or transcript? Purdue wrote in the letter. “The creation of a minor in animal studies would allow students interested in animal studies to be recognized for their activities and taken seriously beyond the classroom.”
In addition to the two faculty members, the students were also involved in the decision-making process, including emailing letters of support to Gruen.
“Interestingly, I also received emails from potential Wesleyan students…[asking] ‘Could you tell us what we can get from animal studies?’ said Gruen.
Sophia Clevenger ’22 explained that the interdisciplinary nature of animal studies is part of what makes it so important as it becomes a broader field of study.
“[Animal Studies is] is starting to be taken a lot more seriously,” Clevenger said. “People are starting to see not only the very obvious link between environmental studies and animal studies, but the link between [Animal Studies and] sociology, American studies, FGSS, Af[rican] A m[erican] Studies, all these different [subjects] who are extremely wrapped up in animal studies.
As animal studies grows and develops, Gruen hopes the new minor will allow the University to remain a leader in the field.
“The field of animal studies has grown a lot, and Wesleyan is becoming a well-known place for animal studies,” Gruen said. “Many other universities and colleges have developed minors and majors.”
Clevenger also noted that designating animal studies as a minor helps legitimize the field.
“While [Animal Studies has] was dominated by white men, it was fully supported and in fact led by women, natives and POC,” Clevenger said. “It’s not that any of these bands don’t need institutional recognition, but it’s kind of nice to be like, ‘Yeah, that’s a legit thing. It’s not just sentimental women who care about animals; it is a legitimate field of study.
Joshua Kleiman ’24 first became interested in animal studies after taking ENVS225: “Liminal Animals: Animals in Urban Spaces”. Kleiman said the class pushed him to re-evaluate his relationship with animals and think critically about animals’ place in society.
“I think ‘Liminal Animals’ did a really good job of forcing me to think philosophically about how humans relate to animals and our relationship to animals,” Kleiman said. “It showed me how much depth there is in this relationship and how if you don’t put yourself in an environment where you think critically about this relationship, then it’s easy to take it for granted and dismiss it. be satisfied with the way that you exist in relation to animals.
Kleiman is currently enrolled at PHIL283: “Animal Law and Policy”, and noted how the course conveys the importance of advocating for animal rights.
“[Animal policy is] incredibly lacking in all abilities,” Kleiman said. “Every piece of legislation that’s supposed to regulate animal welfare is so lackluster in what it does, and I think that lit a bit of a fire in me…to be like, ‘Yeah, that’s something that few people fight for ‘… If there is a minor in animal studies, I hope more people will take these courses and change their minds as I have experienced.
Whether the minor in animal studies is approved or not, Clevenger encourages students to take courses in the field and explore the interdisciplinary approach offered by animal studies.
“I would strongly encourage students to take at least one animal studies course if they can, because not only are the teachers great, but…you can find so many entry opportunities…that it there’s something for everyone,” said Clevenger. . “There’s such a rich community between all of us and whether you’re someone who loves animal studies or not, this takeaway is important and valuable to everyone.”
Kat Struhar can be reached at [email protected].
Linda Lu can be reached at [email protected].