Title of Presentation

Session D: Human-Animal Studies Pedagogy: Bringing Humans to Non-Humans

Sub-theme

Practice

Keywords

humane education; service-learning; zoos

Start Date

12-10-2018 1:30 PM

End Date

12-10-2018 2:45 PM

Abstract

The presenters discuss the logistics, benefits, challenges, and ethical considerations of engaging university students in service-learning projects at an accredited zoo. Such projects constitute a reversed approach to teaching and learning about animals, which replaces the traditional idea of bringing animals to the classroom. It is one of many venues through which humans can be brought to non-humans instead, albeit in a captive setting, with its limitations and ethical concerns.

The service-learning collaboration between Madonna University and the Detroit Zoo started twelve years ago, as the Zoo invited the students enrolled in the general education course Do Animals Matter?, whose content bridges humanities and social sciences, to create enhancement objects for selected animal habitats. The service-learning component supports students’ understanding of animals as individuals, with different needs and disparate personalities among animals sharing a species membership. The Zoo staff members serve as mentors and guides, as students design and build enhancement objects or modify habitat landscapes. The projects range from building hammocks for gorillas and floating islands for seals to planting bushes for warthogs or aardvarks.

As the presenters discuss ways of bridging academic content with hands-on activities, logistical details of collaboration between a university and a zoo, including organizational challenges, as well as benefits to animals, students, the Zoo staff, and the public, this presentation maybe of immediate interest to those who teach animal-related courses in various settings. The presenters also address ethical concerns that arise regarding collaborating with an organization that works with captive animals.

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Oct 12th, 1:30 PM Oct 12th, 2:45 PM

Session D: Human-Animal Studies Pedagogy: Bringing Humans to Non-Humans

The presenters discuss the logistics, benefits, challenges, and ethical considerations of engaging university students in service-learning projects at an accredited zoo. Such projects constitute a reversed approach to teaching and learning about animals, which replaces the traditional idea of bringing animals to the classroom. It is one of many venues through which humans can be brought to non-humans instead, albeit in a captive setting, with its limitations and ethical concerns.

The service-learning collaboration between Madonna University and the Detroit Zoo started twelve years ago, as the Zoo invited the students enrolled in the general education course Do Animals Matter?, whose content bridges humanities and social sciences, to create enhancement objects for selected animal habitats. The service-learning component supports students’ understanding of animals as individuals, with different needs and disparate personalities among animals sharing a species membership. The Zoo staff members serve as mentors and guides, as students design and build enhancement objects or modify habitat landscapes. The projects range from building hammocks for gorillas and floating islands for seals to planting bushes for warthogs or aardvarks.

As the presenters discuss ways of bridging academic content with hands-on activities, logistical details of collaboration between a university and a zoo, including organizational challenges, as well as benefits to animals, students, the Zoo staff, and the public, this presentation maybe of immediate interest to those who teach animal-related courses in various settings. The presenters also address ethical concerns that arise regarding collaborating with an organization that works with captive animals.