Human-Animal Studies Speaker Series

Each year the HAST program brings faculty, students, and community members together for a lecture series featuring world-renowned animal scholars and activists. These lectures (usually three per year) draw a mixed and lively audience of from fifty to one hundred fifty people. Past themes of the Series have included the mental lives of farmed animals, shared human-animal experiences at the margins of society, and living at the wildlife-urban interface. The lectures are followed by Q and A time and informal conversations.

Students are given the opportunity to make personal connections with our lecturers at dinners and beyond. Past speakers have included marine biologist Lori Marino, animal ethologist Marc Bekoff, Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur, and ecofeminist author Carol J. Adams.

Upcoming Speakers

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Guest Speakers:  Barbara J. King
Topic: Enacting Compassion for Animals, Wild and Captive: Beyond Human Exceptionalism
Date/Time: Monday, February 21 at 4:00
WebEx link:

In this illustrated talk, biological anthropologist and science writer Barbara J. King discusses the opportunities and obstacles of working towards compassion for other-than-human animals in a world still largely steeped in human exceptionalism. Using as a springboard her newest book Animals' Best Friends: How to Put Compassion to Work in Captivity and in the Wild, Barbara considers topics such as compassionate conservation for wildlife and the application of principles of justice to animals held in laboratories and animals thought to be food. For instance, she urges us to think broadly about the term “wildlife” to include spiders living in our yards and homes, and to consider how non-lethal methods might play a broader role in wildlife management. How does an understanding of animal cognition and emotion, including animal grief, enhance scholarship on, and activism for, animals in these various spaces? How does our use of language about animals enhance or constrain our efforts? This talk will take up, whenever possible, the life experiences of individual animals.

BARBARA J. KING is emerita professor of anthropology at William & Mary and a freelance science writer and public speaker. The author of seven books, including the latest Animals' Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and the Wild, Barbara focuses on animal emotion and cognition, the ethics of our relationships with animals, and the evolutionary history of language, culture, and religion. Her book How Animals Grieve has been translated into 7 languages and her TED talk on animal love and has now reached over 3 million views. Barbara's work has appeared in Scientific American, NPR, Aeon, and Undark, and she regularly reviews books for NPR and the TLS. Barbara enjoys science outreach at events like the World Science Festival and the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange “science speed dating” night. In Virginia, she lives with her husband and seven rescued cats. Her website is and she tweets about animals way too much @bjkingape. 



Previous HAST Speakers