Philosophy of Animals Course Pioneered at Duquesne University
13th January 2009
Fellow of the Centre, Professor Faith Bjalobok, has pioneered a course in the “Philosophy of Animals” that has recently been approved as a social justice course by Duquesne University of Pittsburgh. The course which assumes that the recognition of animal sentiency and intrinsic value is a prerequisite of a just society, examines various theories of personhood in relation to non-human animals.
Undergraduates are required to reflect on the adequacy of the various ethical views regarding the moral status of non-human animals and develop a position in regard to the moral status of non-human animals. Based on the ethical perspective they choose, students are required to critically examine a variety of human and non-human relationships to determine if the relationship is just or unjust and what would be required to make such a relationship just.
Professor Bjalobok has taught the course for two years running aided by a variety of guest speakers including various rescue organisations, an assistant district attorney, a small animal veterinarian, and the Humane Society of the United States. The course will now be taught annually and has been approved to include a service learning component that will enable the students to observe a variety of animals in various environments from a veterinary office to a farm.
Commenting on this achievement, Professor Bjalobok said: “The University should be applauded for helping to put animals on the academic agenda. This course is a small, but significant, step towards ensuring that animals are recognised as a social justice issue and are given the intellectual attention they deserve.”