Teaching Animal Studies
This year, for the first time as far as I know, the university at which I teach offered an undergraduate course in animal studies in the Department of Law. (I understand that a second course is being planned by the Department of History.) Fortunately for me, I get to teach the course, the syllabus can be found here. Presently, the course is offered as “first year seminar,” which means that enrollment is capped at thirty-five (hardly a “seminar”!) and is limited to first year students. All first year students in B.A. programs are required to take a first year seminar. As we approach the end of the first semester of a two semester course, I’ve begun to wonder what should be the single take-home message the students receive in a class such as this, especially given that they will most likely not be in a position to discuss animals in any of their other classes as they work their way through a degree. Like most first year students, mine are not prepared to engage in any form of serious thought or reflection–on the whole, they seem more interested in my dietary habits than the material as such. Perhaps that will change as we move into the next semester where we will spend our time looking at “issues” rather than at “theory.” If you were (or are) teaching an undergraduate animal studies course, what do you want your students to get out of it?