*The following is a selection of courses that are regularly offered at University of Washington; this is not meant to be an exhaustive list.* 


This course will explore several topics related to animal welfare. We will begin with a brief survey of theories of animal ethics and key concepts for understanding debates about animal welfare. We will then dive into different topics each week. The topics we will study include: the ethics of eating animals; the ethics of experimenting with animals; dilemmas of captivity and zoos; animals in the wild; animal companions; animal protection; and animal rights. Students will be encouraged to explore and assess all sides of the issues covered. Class sessions will be discussion based and will require both active participation and the timely completion of reading assignments.  Written assignments will stress critical thinking and argumentation. This class has no prerequisites, but some prior study of philosophy will prove very useful.

Taught by Lauren Hartzell (postdoctoral fellow) in the Department of Philosophy




Recent years have seen an increase in interest about food politics: how it is produced, where it comes from, how it intersects with class and racial inequality, childhood obesity, and climate change among many other issues. Yet recent scholarship on and activism around food very often ignores the centrality of non-human animals. This course focuses on the place of animals in transnational economies of food and development programs. We also explore the global movement for animal rights and welfare, and challenge the notion that concern over the plight of “food” (and other) animals is limited to the “developed” world. This course seeks to complicate and de-naturalize the common sense understandings that make non-human animals an all too invisible part of world politics.

Taught by Professor María Elena García in the Comparative History of Ideas Program




How do we understand the ethical and political dimensions of the food system for animals, humans and the environment? How does animal agriculture operate as a dominant institution fraught with complex interspecies social relations? What are the impacts of animal agriculture on humans, animals, and the environment and what movements for justice are working to mitigate these impacts? This course explores issues of justice for humans, animals and the environment in animal agriculture primarily in the United States. Framed at the outset by George Orwell’s 1984, the course asks students to explore how discourse operates powerfully across space and time to shape processes of production and consumption and policies related to the meat, dairy and egg industries. The second part of the course contextualizes how agricultural and food policies are shaped. Next, we consider literature on climate change and the environmental impacts of industrial ‘livestock’ production. This provides context for Part 4, which aims to understand the way these production practices affect human laborers and surrounding communities. The fifth part of the course is dedicated to taking seriously the lives and deaths of animals at the center of the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Finally, the course concludes with a unit on social and environmental justice activism and explores the trend toward repressive policies limiting access to spaces of animal agriculture. In response, students spend time at the end of the quarter synthesizing all they have learned to envision practical alternative pathways forward (for food production, consumption and policy) that take seriously the plights of humans, animals and the environment. Assignments for the course include an in-depth final project (which students will design themselves and which can take a multi-media format), a journal, and a couple of short critical response papers.

Taught by Kathryn Gillespie in the UW Honors Program




Students enrolled in this course should gain a better understanding of the workings of the U.S. food system (at both an industrial and small scale) and the experience of animals within this system. Using animals in the food system as a case study, this course will explore notions of power and difference, ethics and responsibility, and creativity in reimagining the status quo. This course will push the boundaries of how we think about difference and discrimination and recognize the intersections between human and animal oppression.

Taught by Kathryn Gillespie in the Comparative History of Ideas Program 




Given the increasing visibility of Animal Studies in Anglophone contexts, the time seems right for interrogating the parameters of what Animal Studies might look like in other linguistic or national contexts. This course proposes a critical overview of some of the abundant animal-focused scholarship being done in French (mostly in philosophy and literary criticism, although we will make ourselves aware of work by ethologists, biologists, etc.), much of which has not been translated. Certainly, the “animal moment” seems to have arrived in France: witness the recent “pétition pour un nouveau statut juridique de l’animal” signed by 24 high-profile French philosophers, scientists, and historians; public debates about meat-eating and national identity;, protests against the corrida; as well as academic laboratoires  dedicated to la question animale in multiple disciplinary contexts. This flourishing of academic and activist activity gives the lie to any notion we might have (influenced by Luc Ferry, for example, or even – as Le Nouvel Observateur opined – going back to Descartes’s beast-machine) that the French have a merely instrumentalist attitude toward animals. However, as we explore “French Animal Studies”, we will also examine our own relationship to the very idea that there is a specifically French Animal Studies that coheres around something other than language. Hopefully, our readings will challenge as much as they will bear out this assumption.

Taught by Professor Louisa Mackenzie in French & Italian Studies 




This course will provide an orientation to the interdisciplinary field of critical animal studies. We will begin by introducing the guiding questions of animal studies scholarship: ontological questions concerning the kinds of capacities human and non-human animals possess; epistemological questions concerning how can we come to know anything about animals as such; and ethical questions concerning how humans should treat animals. The second section of the class will illuminate and further complicate these questions as we apply them to a number of human-animal relationships and practices, including but not limited to pet-keeping, zoo-keeping, and industrial slaughter. The third and final section of the class will focus on representations of animality, underscoring how cultural representations of animality are intimately bound up with representations of human (gender, sexual, racial) difference. In addition to acquainting students with the central preoccupations of critical animal studies scholarship, this course will centrally explore how the question of the animal takes shape within different disciplinary frameworks, and emphasize the potentials and imperatives of interdisciplinary approaches to thinking critically about non-human animals and human-animal relationships.

Taught by Anne Dwyer at UW Bothell




A decolonial food movement in the Americas based on the four Indigenous principles of responsibility, respect, relationship, and reciprocity has cultivated a strong critique on the dominant food systems’ politics, systems of food production, and nutritional recommendations. This course introduces (de)colonial readings (books, journals, blogs, and alterNative media sources) to students of these particular critiques, bridging the Indigenous led decolonial food movement with critical food studies and critical animal studies through methodologies of historical foodways and community health analysis, while engaging in the praxis of decolonizing one’s diet.

Taught by Claudia Serrato in the Comparative History of Ideas Program




Are animal rights and feminist movements connected? Does eating meat perpetuate patriarchy? Can we successfully challenge the exploitation of human beings without also advocating for non-human animals? Can we morally distinguish between human and non-human exhibitionism? How do notions of class structure our choices about eating habits? This course explores some ethical, political, and cultural questions regarding animals and our engagements with them. Specifically, it looks at the cultural production of difference between humans and non-humans, as well as the tactics, strategies, and ideologies behind animal advocacy movements. Drawing on debates in anthropology, philosophy, literature, and politics, this course invites students to interrogate the discourses and practices that reduce animals to “inferior beings.” The class also asks students to critically examine their own relationships with animals, to explore cultural debates about animals and the environment, vegetarianism, the industrial food complex, health, zoos, companion animals, and animal experimentation (among other topics), and to think about the various approaches to animal advocacy.

Taught by Professor María Elena García in the Comparative History of Ideas Program and International Studies




Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle. Gucci, Armani, Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum. Paris, New York, Milan. The modern fashion industry is an amalgamation of corporate media giants, designer brands, individual icons, and select urban centers. Fashion is also embodied in the functional, everyday choices we make about what to wear, how these articles of clothing contribute to the construction of our identities, and why we make the choices we do. Thus, fashion is at once a celebration of the extraordinary, the astonishing, the unexpected and the ordinary, the mundane, the everyday. From the catwalks of Paris and Milan to the streets of Lynnwood and Tacoma, fashion—the clothing we wear—is connected to complex cultural, economic, political and ethical networks. And throughout time, animals have been deeply embedded at the heart of these networks through the use of their skin, their bones, their teeth, their hair, their feathers, their tails and other body parts in human fashion. These industries use various bodies and labor—human and animal—in commodity production. This course explores the historical and contemporary use of animals in fashion and interrogates the power of the aesthetic and global networks of garment production at the intersections of human, animal, and environmental industry impacts.

Taught by Kathryn Gillespie in the Comparative History of Ideas Program




Among theorists and activists it is commonplace to focus on one, very particular kind of injustice.  Thus, it is not at all unusual to encounter feminist activists who eat and wear animal flesh as well as animal activists who are not particularly concerned with the plight of women.  Yet, the marginalization and oppression of animals has been linked (through what Karen Warren calls “the logic of domination”) to the marginalization and oppression of women.  It is also often thought that the same forces that relegate women and animals to the realm of the “other” operate on other marginalized groups.  In this course we will explore the nature of inter-locking oppressions by examining the connections between the domination of animals and the domination of women as well as other marginalized groups.

Taught by Karen Emmerman (PhD in Philosophy) in the Comparative History of Ideas Program




This course examines the multiple ways in which animals have entered transnational flows through the international economy of food and development programs, and the transnational movement for animal rights. The globalization of the “factory farm” model of production has implications for human and non-human animal lives as the epidemics of “mad cow” disease, avian flu, and “swine” flu have recently and dramatically demonstrated. While these diseases are often seen as separate from the “normal” workings of international political economies, this seminar explores how they have emerged in and through the processes of industrialization and globalization. Students also examine the implications of development programs that place “traditional animals” at the center of new strategies to confront poverty in many parts of the developing world. We engage this new development literature and ask what the cultural and economic implications of this process are for local communities who often value animals for religious and social reasons that are incommensurable with the metrics of international development. Finally, students explore the ethical and moral debates that have emerged under the rubrics of animal rights and animal welfare. While this debate has largely been seen as a “First World” phenomenon, this course looks at how concerns for the lives of non-human animals have been expressed by local communities and activists in a global context. Taking animals as the proverbial “fish in the water,” this course seeks to complicate and de-naturalize the common sense understandings that make non-human animals an all too invisible part of world politics. 

Taught by Professor María Elena García in the Comparative History of Ideas Program and International Studies




Traditionally, politics has been defined as the arrangements, frameworks, and rules that human beings devise for living together. What happens to this concept of politics when we add non-human animals to the mix?  In this seminar, we will explore various normative approaches to thinking about inter-species relationships, which are drawn from different traditions of political theorizing and philosophical reflection.  Our theoretical investigations in this seminar will contribute to our understanding of several distinct traditions of inquiry in contemporary political theory, as well as substantive innovations in the literature and politics of inter-species relationships. 

Taught by Professor Christine Di Stefano in Political Science




This course explores social movements at the margins which, through the activism and the protest that contests the meaning of law, help to shape the fabric of the United States. Law, as a construction of society, faces constant opposition and periods of elevated resistance in specific subject areas. These areas include: abolitionism, workers rights, women suffrage and liberation, civil rights, the student and anti-war movement, the American Indian movement, radical environmentalism, and animal rights. Each of these important political, sociological, ideological, and legal movements animates the subject of our discussions. We focus upon the legal and political theorists and activists who challenged mainstream political and legal culture. 

Taught by Larry Cushnie in the Comparative History of Ideas Program 




This advanced seminar invites students to engage intellectually with the idea and experiences of suffering. How do we think about suffering and, perhaps more importantly, how do we not think about it? Reviewing philosophical, cultural, and social questions about the nature of pain and violence, this course pays special attention to the suffering of non-human animals. In the United States, approximately 10 billion animals are killed each year in the food industry alone, although this does not include fish or other sea animals. Throughout the world, millions of animals are used in illegal fighting and trafficking circles, used in medical experiments, and killed in harrowing ways for their fur and skin. The pain and suffering that these and other animals endure in life, and during the process of death, is mostly hidden from public view. Do we consider the fate of pigs, chinchillas, or mice, in the same way that we think about the dogs or cats with whom we share a home? How do humans make decisions about the relative importance (and non-importance) of the suffering of particular animals? What are the consequences of those decisions? In addition to considering these questions, this course also explores the ways in which some forms of violence become more and less visible. What kind of cultural work goes into the production and understanding of these multiple forms of violence? More hopefully, what can be (and has been) done to address these forms of violence in the world? Besides reading philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars, students engage visual materials (especially documentary films) in order to explore what Kathie Jenni calls the “power of the visual.” Is witnessing suffering a necessary part of confronting and mitigating it? Students in this course also take a field trip (to a local animal shelter or farm sanctuary) to get a closer look into the ways in which human and non-human emotions intertwine. Together we will explore the learning that is produced from interrogating the gaps and connections between our emotional responses and our ethical commitments. 

Taught by Professor María Elena García in the Comparative History of Ideas Program and International Studies




This course investigates current debates within the United States about what dietary guidelines are optimum for maintaining human health. First, we will look at how science is used to investigate the relationship between diet and the skyrocketing incidence of chronic disease in the United States since the 1970s. We rely on science to inform us about the pros and cons of different dietary approaches, but science itself is a messy process in which differing paradigms compete within the context of contending social, economic, and political forces. Therefore, we will take a “science and society” approach to the study of competing dietary models and develop an understanding of science as a complex social process. Second, the course will explore the emergence of a new kind of health consumer who seeks to manage their own exposure to chronic disease through diet. The use of media, such as the web blog, will be explored as new technologies that disseminate and democratize science through the creation of web communities that examine critically the often conflicting and confusing findings that surface in the news stream on health and diet. These web communities put scientists, physicians, health professionals, and self-educating health consumers into dialogue with each other in ways that may be very new. In the search for wellness, health consumers are engaging in a form of science with themselves as singular experimental subjects. We will be looking at how this form of “anecdotal” evidence is being weighed in relation to the more traditional forms of scientific research by the members of these Internet communities. Third, we will explore how individuals are changing their relationship to what they eat through farm-to-table sourcing, reclaiming home cooking, self-provisioning, participation in social movements to build local and regional food systems, and de-linking from industrial agriculture. We will explore the difficulties of enacting these changes on a student budget and work collectively to find ways to make them more affordable. We will get involved with one such experiment right here on campus at the UW student farm. The farm, which is entirely run by students, was established in 2005 to help students reconnect with where their food comes from and to develop a vision for farm-to-table provisioning even for large institutions like the UW. Fourth, we will explore contemporary food ideologies that are forming web-based communities in the search for personal wellness. How do people define their moral and ethical selves through food? What attracts them to a specific food philosophy? How does this reshape their relations with others? How do they use the evidence of their bodies to weigh the pros and cons of different approaches. What are the possible dangers of “obsessing about food too much?” What counts as obsession in this context as individuals endeavor to change their own relationship to food? 

Taught by Professor Ann Anagnost in the Department of Anthropology




This advanced undergraduate seminar focuses on the broad theme of “life.” More specifically, we expand discussions of “life” to include non-human others; we expand our thinking about love, loss, and grief; and we consider the politics of vulnerability: who lives at the margins, who lives in conditions of “slow death” as Lauren Berlant might put it. Other questions we engage: what happens when we consider the possibility that “rocks listen” and “earth-beings” (such as rivers and glaciers) speak? Are spiders and snails self-aware? Can robots suffer? Are plants intelligent? It is my hope that our rigorous examination of these and other issues will serve as windows through which we can view the workings of alterity and marginalization as well as survey pathways to alternative and better futures.

Taught by Professor Maria Elena Garcia in the Comparative History of Ideas Program




In this course, our readings and discussions focus on the “question of the animal” or what I call the “violent intimacies” of human-animal encounters. The “question of the animal” is one that feminists, philosophers, scientists, activists, and many others have been grappling with for centuries. Over the past decade, however, the interdisciplinary field of animal studies has expanded greatly. Interest in animal studies, which had been building since at least the 1964 publication of Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines, gathered increased steam in 1975 with Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, and reached new audiences with the 1997 lectures given by Jacques Derrida (subsequently published as The Animal That Therefore I Am). Receiving the sustained attention of scholars in philosophy, literature, history, anthropology, geography, political science, and other disciplines, animal studies, in the words of a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “has become a force to be reckoned with.” This course will introduce students to some of the key scholars writing about human-animal encounters. We will engage the different approaches used to think about human-animal relationships and entanglements, and explore broad themes like animality and difference, science and representation, captivity and spectacle, and the power of witnessing. In addition to engaging films, texts, and each other, we will take a field trip to a local farm sanctuary. Please note that one of the seminar assignments is to write a brief ethnography of a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo or the Seattle Aquarium. This will require that you spend at least 2-3 hours in either the Zoo or the Aquarium. 

Taught by Professor María Elena García in the Comparative History of Ideas Program and International Studies

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