Winners of the Animals and Society Course Awards 2012

The Humane Society of the United States and the Animals and Society Institute are pleased to announce the winners of the 14th annual Animals and Society Course Awards. Judges selected courses at Washington and Lee University, the University of Washington and Sweden's Lund University to receive the awards, which recognize college and university classes that explore the relationships between animals and people.

"The spread of animal studies since we launched the awards in 1998 has been remarkable, and we're particularly impressed with the proliferation of college and university-based degree programs where students can forge an animal studies major or minor," said Kenneth Shapiro, Ph.D., president of the board of directors of the Animals and Society Institute.

"Animal studies is now well institutionalized within dozens of academic disciplines, and truly has its own momentum," said Bernard Unti, Ph.D., senior policy adviser and special assistant to the CEO of The HSUS.

Award categories include the Distinguished New Course Award and the Distinguished Established Course Award. Judges from The HSUS and the Animals and Society Institute evaluated this year's submissions using criteria such as depth and rigor within the topic, impact on the study of animals and society and originality of approach.

The academic department of the Distinguished Established Course Award winner will receive $1,500 and the academic departments of the Distinguished New Course Award winners will each receive $750.

Distinguished New Course Award:

Athena Kirk, "The Ancient Animal World" Classics Department, Washington and Lee University. (Lexington, Va.)

This remarkable course moves between the classical literary and philosophical heritage and contemporary questions of engagement with animals, exposing students to ancient taxonomies and cultural attitudes while using service learning and site visit exercises to encourage reflections on human interactions with animals.

Helena Pedersen and Tobias Linné, "Critical Animal Studies: Animals in Society, Culture and the Media", Lund University (Lund, Sweden)

Pedersen and Linné co-teach this course which is the first offering in "critical animal studies" to receive an award. It is a sign of the maturity of the field of human-animal studies that a number of subfields are emerging, aside from traditional discipline-based offerings. The course emphasizes the political and institutional basis of our (mis)treatment of animals, keeps focus on animals' actual experience and includes the viewpoints of advocates across a broad spectrum of opinion and tactics.

Distinguished Established Course Award:

Maria Elena Garcia, "Violent Intimacies: Encountering the Animal", Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington. (Seattle, Wash.) The rubric of "violent intimacies" allows this interdisciplinary course to focus on the exploitative side of human-animal relationships from various viewpoints. The result is a rich intellectual and on-the-ground experience reflected in the accolades of faculty and students alike.