Animal Rights Collective Blog


GMU Coverage of Animal Rights Course by vegan villainess

Classes We Love: Course Explores Animal Rights Movement

By Jason Jacks on July 18, 2011

from “The Mason Spirit”

In one grainy movie clip, cows are shocked with electric prods to get them onto a truck. In another, stressed-out chickens are thrown into small crates as they’re being prepared for a trip to the slaughterhouse.

Gaining knowledge is not always for the squeamish, as is sometimes the case in one of Mason’s summer courses: Animal Rights and Humane Education.

Image: Paul Gorski teaches a new class about animal rights. (Photo by Nicolas Tan)

As the name suggests, the class explores—sometimes through difficult-to-watch films like the one described above—the movement to protect the other members of the animal kingdom. This is the first time the class is being offered at Mason.

Taught by Paul Gorski, an assistant professor of integrated studies in New Century College, the class touches on the testing of products on animals, the use of animals in entertainment, veganism, and animal fighting, as well as how animals are treated at large factory farms.

“I don’t see my role as preparing activists,” says Gorski, who is teaching the class as a section of NCLC 395 Special Topics in Experiential Learning. “I just see [animal rights] as a conversation in society that people are really interested in.”

This intensive two-week class is split into two sections. The first week takes place mostly in the classroom and includes guest speakers and field trips. During the second week, students spend much of their time working on class projects and meeting with Gorski online.

So far this summer, the class has visited a Maryland sanctuary for farm animals. There were also plans to attend the Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, D.C.

During one recent class, a representative from the Humane Society of the United States spoke about the brutal conditions some farm animals endure and the increasingly popular trend of “Meatless Mondays,” where consumers forgo meat for one day a week.

On the same day, students also watched “Meet Your Meat,” a short film narrated by actor Alec Baldwin filled with hard-to-watch clips of the maltreatment of animals at some unnamed factory farms.

“I want to go home and throw everything out of my refrigerator,” one student says moments after watching the film.

Katie Isaacman, a senior majoring in integrated studies and a member of the class, has been a vegetarian since age 6. She says she avoids meat for ethical reasons, as she is a strong believer in animal rights.

“It was tough to watch,” she says of the film. “But it’s important to show people what is going on.”

A social justice scholar, much of Gorski’s previous scholarly work has focused on the more human-centric topics of gender, poverty, and racism. He is the founder of www.EdChange.org, a coalition of educators and activists who develop free social justice resources.

To prepare himself for teaching the animal rights class, he read extensively on the subject and took courses on animal protection offered by the Humane Society.

He says classes dedicated solely to animal rights are rare at universities. Those that do offer similar courses, he explains, usually do so through their philosophy departments.

He hopes his class will at least “incite interest” in students to continue studying animal rights.

“I think this class will put animal rights as a potential field of study on the radar screens of some students,” he says.

And if it goes a step further and spurs some into becoming full-fledged animal rights activists, then, “that would be great, too,” he says.

About these ads

6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The development of Animal Rights coursework in curriculums across the country would be a real boost.

Comment by veganelder

great article ,thanks:)

Comment by animals photos

I second veganelder’s comment. I worked at the HBSPCA for several years developing their humane education program for youth. I think it’s an important lesson in empathy for children, and post-secondary curriculums incorporating some form of animal rights coursework would be a hugely positive leap.

Comment by kyraehayes

I love learning about people who teach humane education. I’ve held a workshop for a group of children aged 4-8, but I never see classes for teens and adults. There needs to be more people who consider animal activism a legitimate study, and not just a “waste of time” as I’ve heard so many times.

Comment by adveganture

Is this class going to be offered again at any point, does anyone know?

Comment by Mo

What is everyones opinion on the recent situation in Hawthorne, California with Leon Rosby and his pet dog Max? The police officer involved in the shooting clearly had other options besides the use of lethal force… He could have used pepper spray or even a tazer.. Anyone have an option on that case? If you’re not familiar with it I would recommend checking out the official website for information…

http://www.justice-for-max.com

Comment by Adam Sowers




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers

%d bloggers like this: