Tag Archive for Animal Studies

Wesleyan in the News

NewsIn this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. CNN: “What the ‘Woke Student’ and the ‘Welfare Queen’ Have in Common”

“Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves,” writes President Michael Roth ’78 in this op-ed. Roth compares today’s bogeyman, the “woke” college student, with those of past eras—the “welfare queen” and “dirty hippie”—and seeks to build understanding and dispel negative misperceptions of activist college students. “The images of the welfare queen and of the woke student are convenient because they provide excuses to not engage with difference, placing certain types of people beyond the pale,” he writes. “These scapegoats are meant to inspire solidarity in a group by providing an object for its hostility (or derision), and educators and civic leaders should not play along.”

2. Los Angeles Times: “Opinion: Our Food Is Tainted with E. Coli, Yet the FDA Is Rolling Back Safety Rules”

As yet another food-borne E. coli outbreak sickens Americans, Fred Cohan, the Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment and professor of biology, and Isaac Klimasmith ’20, argue in this op-ed that more can and should be done to prevent dangerous contaminations of our food supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rolled back rules that “would have required monitoring and treating irrigation water for E. coli,” a major cause of these outbreaks. “We should not be surprised that a regulation-averse administration would disregard the science of food safety, but it is concerning that consumers have become complacent about yearly outbreaks of E. coli contamination and largely silent about the rollback of food safety regulations,” they write.

3. The Washington Post: “What Happens When College Students Discuss Lab Work in Spanish, Philosophy in Chinese or Opera in Italian?”

Stephen Angle, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies, professor of philosophy, and the Mansfield Professor of East Asian Studies, is interviewed about Wesleyan’s efforts to promote language study, including the new Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) initiative, through which students can study a range of disciplines in other languages. For example, Angle teaches a Mandarin-language section of Classical Chinese Philosophy, a course historically taught in English. Read more about CLAC and Wesleyan’s language instruction here.

Abrell to Speak on the Future of Meat During 92nd Street Y’s Inaugural Food Summit

Elan Abrell, a fellow in animal studies and philosophy, will be a panelist at 92nd Street Y’s first-ever Food Summit on Nov. 9.

The Summit will explore the future of what and how we eat and will include some of the most dynamic and influential figures in the culinary world. Guests will discuss how food brings us together, the future of cookbook publishing, mental health in the food industry, how immigrant chefs continue to transform American cuisine, and much more.

Abrell’s panel will focus on the topic of “Meat: The Future.” He will join experts from the fields of anthropology, nutrition, and the emerging industry of cellular agriculture to explore the science, the implications, alternate sources of animal protein, and life after meat.

This fall, Abrell is teaching a course on Liminal Animals: Animals in Urban Spaces, which examines the major ways in which nonhuman animals influence and are influenced by human-built environments, with specific attention to the ethical, political, and social dimensions of human-animal interactions in these spaces.

For 145 years, 92nd Street Y has been serving its communities and the larger world by bringing people together and providing groundbreaking programs in the performing and visual arts; literature and culture; adult and children’s education; talks on a huge range of topics; health and fitness; and Jewish life.

Tickets are available online.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News
1. Inside Higher Ed: ‘Safe Enough Spaces’

President Michael Roth is interviewed about defending free speech, inclusion on campus, and affirmative action, among other topics, in connection with the forthcoming publication of his new book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, due out Aug. 20 from Yale University Press.

2. The New York Times: “The World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died”

William Griffin Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen writes in this op-ed about the legacy of the “world’s smartest chimp” Sarah, who died recently in her 50s after a long career working with researchers. Sarah taught the world about animal cognition, including chimps’ understanding of the thoughts and desires of others. Her career showed us that “not only do chimpanzees have complex thoughts, but also distinct personalities with strong preferences and prejudices,” Gruen writes.

Lori Gruen in The Conversation: How Should We Decide What to Do?

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Lori Gruen, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, has written a piece explaining how philosophers determine what is the right, or ethical, thing to doGruen also is professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of science in society, and coordinator of animal studies. Read her bio in The Conversation

How should we decide what to do? 

How many times do we wonder, “What’s the right thing to do?”

Most of us are faced with ethical decisions on a regular basis. Some are relatively minor—perhaps your cousin makes a new recipe and it really doesn’t taste good, and you have to decide whether to tell the truth or a little white lie so as not to hurt her feelings.

Others are weightier—should you blow the whistle when you discover that your co-worker is behaving in ways that could jeopardize everyone at your workplace? Should you forego a relaxing vacation and instead donate the money to a worthy cause?

For thousands of years, philosophers have debated how to answer ethical questions, large and small. There are a few approaches that have withstood the test of time.

Doing the most good

One approach, which we often use in our day-to-day lives even if we aren’t aware that it is a type of ethical deliberation, is to figure out what the consequences of our actions might be and then determine if one course of action or another will lead to better outcomes. In the policy context, this is often referred to as a cost-benefit analysis.

Gruen Named Faculty Fellow at Tufts’ Center for Animals

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

This month, Lori Gruen accepted a three-year appointment as a Faculty Fellow at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animals and Public Policy. Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and professor of environmental studies at Wesleyan. She also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies.

The mission of the Tufts University’s Center for Animals and Public Policy (CAPP) is to conduct and encourage scholarly evaluation and understanding of the complex societal issues and public policy dimensions of the changing role and impact of animals in society. As a Faculty Fellow, Gruen will explore human-animal relationships with Tufts students by teaching classes, mentoring student research, leading service activities, and presenting public seminars under CAPP sponsorship. She’ll continue teaching at Wesleyan during this three-year term.

The title of Faculty Fellow is awarded by the Dean of Cummings School to participants who have shown a deep and consistent commitment to the Center’s efforts in graduate and veterinary education, research, service and outreach.

Gruen’s research lies at the intersection of ethical theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations (e.g. women, people of color, non-human animals). She has published extensively on topics in animal ethics, ecofeminism, and practical ethics more broadly, and is currently thinking about intersections of race, gender, and species and chimpanzees.

 

 

Weil on Respect and Our Relationships with Thinking Animals

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil, the University Professor of Letters, was a guest on WNPR’s “The Faith Middleton Show” to discuss how our evolving understanding of animals should affect how we treat them personally and professionally.

They began by discussing the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey would stop using elephants in their circus performances within three years.

“I think there is a fine line between use and abuse,” said Weil.”I don’t think all use is abuse. I think animals depend on us, we depend on them. We can use certain animals for certain things, but when we’re down to exploitive techniques like bull hooks and fear tactics, I think we’ve gone the wrong way.”

Middleton asked about the root of Weil’s interest in animal studies.

Oddly, she said, it started with an interest in the relationship between women and horses in 19th century France. Women had to get special dispensation to cross-dress so they could straddle horses, Weil explained.

“That interest slowly took me to other questions of training techniques, of how horses were used, of how they were regarded. Of why, when horses were the most popular animal, they were also legalized for human consumption,” she said.

Hear the complete interview here. Weil also is director of the College of Letters.

Gruen’s New Book Explores Human-Animal Relationships

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen, professor and chair of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the author of a new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals, published by Lantern Books on Feb. 15.

In Entangled Empathy, Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal rights, we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about and practicing animal ethics.

Gruen defines “entangled empathy” as “a process whereby we first acknowledge that we are already in relationships with all sorts of other animals (humans and non-humans) and these relationships are, for the most part, not very good ones. We then work to figure out how to make them better and that almost always means trying to promote well-being and flourishing.”

Gruen discussed her book with University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Mark Bekoff in The Huffington Post. Bekoff calls the book “a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.”

Gruen Speaks at Minding Animals Conference in India

Professor Lori Gruen visits India as a distinguished guest to the Minding Animals Conference.

Professor Lori Gruen recently visited India as a distinguished guest at the Minding Animals Conference. She’s pictured here at the Taj Mahal.

Gruen spoke on "Entangled Empathy," the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen spoke on “Entangled Empathy,” the topic of her most recent book.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, was a distinguished guest speaker at the third Minding Animals Conference (MAC) in New Delhi, India on Dec. 7. Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

During the conference, Gruen discussed “Entangled Empathy,” which is the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen notes “that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals and argues for a version of empathy as a way of rethinking and practicing animal ethics.”

She also sat on a panel that discussed the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”

The MAC is a conference held every three years and organized by Minding Animals International (MAI).  The MAI “has been designed to improve the status of nonhuman animals and alleviate nonhuman animal exploitation by facilitating research and discourse among scholars, students, artists, activists, advocates (and members of the general population) in the trans-disciplinary field of animal studies.  MAI’s main objectives are to further the development of nonhuman animal studies internationally and to help establish legal and moral protections for nonhuman animals.”

Gruen shared some of her pictures from her trip to New Dehli:

Picture taken by Gruen.

Picture taken by Gruen.

Gruen sits on a panel about the state of the field of Animal Studies and a workshop on "Feminism and Animals."

Gruen, third from left, sat on a panel about the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”

 

Weil Leads Workshops in Chile on Trends in American Animal Studies

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on "Current Trends in American Animal Studies Educational Diplomacy" at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on “Current Trends in American Animal Studies” at the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile. Her invitation was part of an academic agreement between the university and the Cultural Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chile.

Stray dogs are everywhere in Santiago, Chile. They lie on sidewalks, wander the parks, and even cross busy streets unaided. No one seems to mind; they’re just part of the culture.

For Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, they also were a striking reminder of the purpose of her recent trip to Santiago. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy there, she visited the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile Jan. 6-9 to discuss current trends in American animal studies.

Although academics have studied animals from various perspectives for a long time, animal studies as a cross-disciplinary field has come into its own fairly recently. The field, developing robustly in the United States, draws the attention of scholars in areas such as anthropology, film studies, psychology, literary studies and philosophy. At Wesleyan, Weil and Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, have led the development of an Animal Studies program with courses ranging from Animal Theories/Human Fictions to Applied Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics and the Animal/Human Boundary. They also co-sponsor a summer fellowship in animal studies at Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute.

In some areas outside the United States,

Gruen Edits Book on Contemporary Ecofeminism

Book co-edited by Lori Gruen.

Book co-edited by Lori Gruen.

Professor Lori Gruen is the co-editor of a new book titled Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, published by Bloomsbury Academic in July 2014.

Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. She also co-coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies.

In this 288-page book, leading feminist scholars and activists introduce and explore themes central to contemporary ecofeminism.

Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth first offers an historical, grounding overview that situates ecofeminist theory and activism and provides a timeline for important publications and events. This is followed by contributions from leading theorists and activists on how our emotions and embodiment can and must inform our relationships with the more than human world. In the final section, the contributors explore the complexities of appreciating difference and the possibilities of living less violently. Throughout the book, the authors engage with intersections of gender and gender non-conformity, race, sexuality, disability and species.

The result is a new up-to-date resource for students and teachers of animal studies, environmental studies, feminist/gender studies, and practical ethics.

Gruen also is the editor of The Ethics of Captivity, published in May 2014, and the author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction, published in May 2011.

Weil Delivers Keynote at Animal Studies Conference in Chicago

Kari Weil

Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, delivered a keynote address on “Animal Studies: The Ends of Empathy and Beginnings of Reading” at a “Why do Animal Studies?” conference April 3-4 at the University of Chicago.

During the conference, scholars discussed “What is it that draws a multiplicity of voices into this conversation, and how can they productively engage with one another? Why has this field of inquiry gained such traction in recent decades? How is Animal Studies taking shape as a field that overlaps multiple discourses and disciplines, and what opportunities or difficulties arise as a result? How do different methodologies clarify or substantiate one another, fill knowledge gaps, and illuminate unknown aspects of individual areas of interest?”

Weil has published widely on literary representations of gender, feminist theory, and, more recently, on theories and representations of animal otherness. She recently co-edited a special issue of Hypatia titled, Animal Others (2012) and she is the author of  Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now (2012) and Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (1992). Her current project is tentatively titled,  ‘The Most Beautiful Conquest of Man’ ?: Horses and Other Animal Pursuits in 19-Century France.