Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies, and coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies recently edited a new book, The Ethics of Captivity. The book explores the various conditions of captivity for humans and for other animals and examines ethical themes that imprisonment raises. Chapters written by those with expert knowledge about particular conditions of captivity discuss how captivity is experienced. The book also contains new essays by philosophers and social theorists that reflect on the social, political, and ethical issues raised by captivity.
One topic covered in many chapters in the book is zoos. Gruen recently published on Oxford University Press’s blog about the high-profile killing of a two-year-old giraffe named Marius by the Copenhagen Zoo because his genes were already “well-represented” in Europe’s giraffe population. His body was autopsied in public and fed to lions. Those lions, an adult pair and their two cubs, were later killed to make room for a younger male lion that was not related to any of the captive female lions.
Gruen writes that while zoos were originally designed to entertain visitors, they have increasingly expanded their roles to include conservation and education due to the heightened awareness of endangered species and the danger of extinction. Zoos tend to place more value in the overall genetic diversity of a captive population than on the well-being of an individual animal. Gruen suggests that seeing animals as disposable may undermine conservation efforts. That attitude towards animals is part of what has lead to so many wild animals to be threatened. She reminds us that “Causing death is what zoos do. It is not all that they do, but it is a big part of what happens at zoos, even if this is usually hidden from the public. Zoos are institutions that not only purposely kill animals, they are also places that in holding certain animals captive, shorten their lives. Some animals, such as elephants and orca whales, cannot thrive in captivity and holding them in zoos and aquaria causes them to die prematurely.” Some of the chapters in the upcoming book explore how zoos affect animals in the zoos and the people who watch those animals.
Click here to learn more about the book or to purchase it.
Gruen also wrote a post on OUP Blog based on the book.
In this video, Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy; professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; professor of environmental studies, talks about the ethics of caring for chimpanzees who have been subjected to invasive biomedical research. She discusses recent positive developments in the movement to retire to sanctuaries the last 1,000 federally-supported research chimpanzees in the United States. Professor Gruen maintains the website www.last1000chimps.com to track the movement of the remaining research chimps in the U.S. from labs to retirement. Find more information about Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary where many research chimps live in retirement, at www.chimphaven.org.
Spanning centuries of philosophical and environmental thought, Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, will inform and enlighten students while also encouraging debate. The comprehensive collection presents 50 classic and contemporary readings on the intellectual climate and patterns of environmental concern.
The selections are topically organized into sections on animals, biodiversity, ethics, images of nature, wilderness, aesthetics, climate change and food. This thematic organization, in combination with coverage of current environmental issues, encourages students to apply what they learn in class to real-life problems.
Featuring insightful section introductions, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading, Reflecting on Nature, Second Edition, is ideal for use in environmental philosophy, environmental ethics, and environmental studies courses.
John, about 44, was captured in Africa and brought to the United States to perform in rodeos. He came to Chimp Haven from a biomedical research facility. Dr. Brent writes, “John is blind in one eye and has a malformed face due to a fall out of a tree during his time on the rodeo circuit.” He now suffers from kidney disease.
Professor Lori Gruen’s The First 100 web site was featured in The New York Times. The web site provides biographies of the first 100 chimpanzees used in scientific experimentation. Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of feminist gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies.
Chimpanzees live 50 to 60 years in captivity, so those who are retired have long histories, although the details can be spotty. On her web site, Gruen has thumbnail biographies of the first 100 chimps used in research in the United States. She hopes to create a similar site for chimps now in research laboratories, called The Last 1,000.
The chimps pictured in the article – some with long histories, others with uncertain futures – are at Chimp Haven and The New Iberia Research Center, both in Louisiana.
Wesleyan’s Animal Studies hosted the Animals and Society Institute-Wesleyan Animal Studies Fellowship Program Conference June 27-30 in Usdan University Center. The conference is the culminating event in the first annual ASI-WAS Fellowship Program, which brings to campus a broad range of scholars studying human-animal relations. Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, and Kari Weil, university professor of letters, co-organized the conference.
Photos of the conference faculty, guests and ASI fellows are below:
Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, spoke on “Animal Deaths and Melancholy Becomings" on June 28.
Kelly Enright, a writer, historian and museum consultant, spoke on "Extinction: How we lose, mourn, and live with lost species" on June 28. Enright, of Vail, Colo. is the author of Rhinoceros (Reaktion 2008), America’s Natural Places: Rocky Mountains & Great Plains (Greenwood 2010), and Osa & Martin: For the Love of Adventure (Lyons 2011). Enright has consulted for museums and non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History.
Lori Gruen makes introductory remarks at the “Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation" symposium April 22. Gruen, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, organized the event. She also is teaching a course this semester titled “Primate Encounters” and has published a book on ethics and animals.
Lori Gruen is organizing the upcoming symposium titled “Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation.” (Photo by John Van Vlack)
A diverse group of primate researchers will convene at Wesleyan on April 22 for a day-long symposium about the relationship between humans and the other great apes – chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas. The schedule is online here.
“Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation” will feature presentations by anthropologists, psychologists, primatologists and conservationists who study or advocate for non-human great apes in the wild and in captivity. Discussions will follow each talk, with an emphasis on chimpanzee behavior and the ethical treatment of non-human great apes.
“We’re in this complicated and increasingly intense relationship with the other great apes,” says Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy and the symposium’s principal organizer. “If chimps and other great apes were living in their worlds undisturbed by our activities, we wouldn’t have to raise questions about our relationship to them.”
Gruen is currently teaching a course called “Primate Encounters,” in which students examine
Lori Gruen, chair of the Philosophy Department, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of environmental studies, is the author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction, published by Cambridge University Press in March 2011.
In this comprehensive introduction to animal ethics, Gruen weaves together poignant and provocative case studies with discussions of ethical theory, urging readers to engage critically and empathetically reflect on their treatment of other animals. She provides a survey of the issues central to human-animal relations and a reasoned new perspective on current key debates in the field. She analyzes and explains a range of theoretical positions and poses challenging questions that directly encourage readers to hone their ethical reasoning skills and to develop a defensible position about their own practices.
Her book will be an invaluable resource for students in a wide range of disciplines including ethics, environmental studies, veterinary science, women’s studies, and the emerging field of animal studies and is an engaging account of the subject for general readers with no prior background in philosophy.
Her book includes studies of provocative cases to illustrate difficult ethical dilemmas and provides key points of reference for discussion of ethical theories concerning the relationship between humans and animals.
Karen Emmerman, a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Washington, speaks on “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Partiality, Human Interests, and Inter-animal Conflicts” at the Sex, Gender, Species conference Feb. 25-26. Wesleyan Animal Studies and The Center for the Study of Public Life sponsored the event, which explored the intersections between feminism and animal studies and the practical and theoretical problems central to both fields.
Sixteen speakers from a range of disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts will focus on a variety of topics addressing human-animal relations and their representations.
Sex, Gender, Species is the title of an international conference being hosted by Wesleyan Animal Studies and The Center for the Study of Public Life on Feb. 25-26.
The conference will explore the intersections between feminist and animal studies and the practical and theoretical problems central to both fields. Speakers from a range of disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts will focus on a variety of topics addressing human-animal relations and their representations.
“The growing field of animal studies has turned critical attention to the real conditions and stakes of human relationships with other animals,” says Lori Gruen, conference co-organizer and associate professor, philosophy, associate professor, feminist, gender and sexuality studies. “We were overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of the response to our call for papers and are looking forward to an intellectually rich conference.”
The conference has five sessions. Friday, Feb. 25, will feature presentations
Wesleyan University and the Animals and Society Institute (ASI) have formed a partnership and will offer the “ASI-WAS Human-Animal Studies Summer Fellowship” in 2011 through Wesleyan’s recently-launched College of the Environment.
The ASI-WAS Human-Animal Studies Summer Fellowship marks the launch of Wesleyan Animal Studies (WAS), which will advance the rapidly growing field of Animal Studies and foster scholarship on human-animal relations from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.
The fellowship will be hosted by Wesleyan faculty Lori Gruen and Kari Weil. Gruen is chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan, and author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge, Feb. 2011). Weil is a visiting professor of letters at Wesleyan, and author of Thinking Animals: An Introduction (Columbia, 2011).
Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science in Society, was one of three guests featured on PBS’s “Where We Live” on March 23. Grabel joined scientists and ethicists from all over the country for StemCONN 2009—an international stem cell research symposium held in New Haven, Conn. The symposium organizers and experts spoke on what new federal policy means for a state like Connecticut, which has already heavily invested in stem cell research.
Connecticut is home to leading academic institutions for human stem cell research, including Wesleyan, Yale University, the University of Connecticut. It is a place where national and international stem cell research partnerships develop, thrive and grow.
During StemCONN, Grabel, chair of the StemCONN organizing committee, provided an up-to-the-minute report on the achievements of Connecticut’s research institutions and the State of Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research Fund. Her current research interests include a study of the ability if GABAergic neurons derived from embryonic stem cells to prevent chronic seizures when transplanted to the mouse hippocampus, and a study examining the molecular signals that direct production of neural stem cells from embryonic stem cells and the environmental conditions, following seizures, that promote integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neural stem cells.
Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and director of the Ethics in Society Project was also on the organizing committee for StemCONN. Gruen is chair of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight committee. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and ethical practice and she has published on multiple topics in bioethics, environmental ethics, and other areas of practical ethical concern.
Recently, she co-edited Stem Cell Research: The Ethical Issues (Blackwell, 2007) with Grabel and Peter Singer.