NYU Launches Animal Studies Initiative

David Cassuto

Oh to be young again.  NYU is launching an Animal Studies Initiative.  NYU students will soon be able to minor in animal studies and the initiative will also create opportunities for interdisciplinary courses, conferences and other research projects.  Professor Dale Jamieson, who heads NYU’s Environmental Studies Program and has written much that needs to be read in the animal studies arena, will head the program.  He notes:

The interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies has developed rapidly over the past two decades, opening up new areas of research both within and between many existing academic fields.  Animal Studies addresses questions about the uniqueness of human beings with respect to other animals, the moral status of animals and their cultural meanings, and the roles they play in our imagination and arts.

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What Use Animal Law?

David Wolfson guest-taught my Animal Law class this evening and, as usual, his provocative, insightful views sent my thoughts spinning off in all directions.  For example, David observed that since 98% of animals in the United States are “farmed” animals and thus wholly lacking in legal protections, animal law, as commonly understood, is functionally irrelevant. “Who cares about  set of laws that a set of laws that apply to only 2% of the population?” he asked.  “Wouldn’t we say that a country where the rule of law applied to only 2% of the population was lawless?”

That comparison is brutally powerful and hard to refute.  When the vast majority of the population resides outside of the law’s protection, one has to wonder what purpose the law serves, if any.  This, of course, leads those of us who teach and practice animal law to wonder just what it is we’re doing.  Or at least it does me.

David Cassuto