The critical animal studies class at Chapman focuses on the relationship between humans and animals and centers heavily on the moral rights of these beings.
Ian Barnard teaches the honors animal studies program here at Chapman.
“The course engages with questions through in-depth studies of the interdisciplinary field of critical animal studies,” Barnard said. “We make assumptions based on human’s’ own values. At one point in time, we mindlessly categorized certain animals in different groups and that trend stayed permanent throughout the years.”
Some of these questions include:
- Why people believe they are of higher value than animals. This term is referred to as human speciesism.
- Why people believe that humans have a soul and animals don’t.
- Where everyone gets their own moral opinion about animal behavior.
- How and when did animals come to be distinguished from humans?
The class offers insight into the ethical and social perspectives that enable the class to engage with each other on different beliefs and views.
Through the topic of animals, students learn how to engage in this matter through texts, media, writing, and oral involvement.
“(I hope to) sharpen students’ ability to critically analyze and synthesize a broad range of knowledge through primary texts and engagement in active learning with fellow students, faculty, and texts,” Barnard said.
Barnard expressed the class is great to improve writing skills and learn ethics and values pertaining to human and animal behavior, as well as where your own moral opinions might stand.
The honors critical animals study class goes in-depth about the animal activists’ beliefs, and it allows students to share their opinions and become familiar with others’.
Barnard will be on sabbatical next semester, but he will be offering this course again in spring 2019. In the meantime, if you are intrigued by this topic, two books you can check out are “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat” by Hal Herzog, and “Animals and Society” by Margo DeMello. The movie “Speciesism” is also a good source to learn more about the concept of human superiority.