Students Can Explore Human-Animal Relationships in New Minor

Feb. 26, 2009 -

Students interested in animal-related careers can now work towards a minor in the newly established Human-Animal Studies program that explores the relationships between people and animals.

Students in the interdisciplinary program, which was launched this school year, might study relationships found in literature or history or could focus on ecology and the ways that humans and animals are interrelated. All students are required to take an environmental ethics course and a course in animal behavior or ecology so that they are grounded in both humanistic and scientific perspectives on animals, and will also complete a practicum where they will spend time working hands-on with animals.

"There is a lot of flexibility, which can allow a student to tailor the program to their specific interests," said Kathie Jenni, a philosophy professor who spearheaded the effort to bring the minor to campus and is the program’s director.

The minor could appeal to a variety of students, including those interested in working at zoos, animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers and veterinary medicine, Jenni said. Students interested in the rapidly growing field of animal law also might find it appealing, she said.

Jenni said she realized the minor might interest students after she had to repeatedly turn students away from her May Term class, where she takes students to a Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest sanctuary for abused and abandoned companion animals, to do an internship in animal care and a course in animal ethics.

While nationwide there are several sociology departments that offer an emphasis in human-animal studies, the minor at Redlands is believed to be the first interdisciplinary program, Jenni said.

"There seemed to be this fervent interest among students from all kinds of majors," she said. "The interest was clearly there. We just needed to see if we could make deeper study of the area available for them."

Professors from across the university, including those in environmental studies, literature, psychology, philosophy, biology and the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, came together to explore the possibility of starting the minor.

"We realized that there already were a lot of courses being taught in the area," she said. "It turned out we had the resources to offer a minor without hiring additional faculty or creating new courses, although we do expect more courses to be developed and welcome that."

Jenni said she is proud to be at a university where professors have the freedom to launch such a cutting edge program.

"One of our values is curricular innovation and we as a faculty are really encouraged to try new things. This is something quite new, and it’s also something that is bold and exciting. We expect this minor to thrive."

Contact: Kathie JenniĀ (909) 748-8652 (Phone)

The University has a long tradition of encouraging and supporting study abroad.

More than 47 percent of Redlands undergraduates participate in study abroad programs.

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