Bringing LC together through furry friends: Human-Animal Studies Conference bridges gap between the two campuses

By Julie Oatfield /// Staff Writer 

Pale blue posters around campus last week were subtle reminders of what’s actually a very strong initiative rolling across all three Lewis & Clark campuses.

The Human Animal Studies Conference was held in Thayer on March 13, with the goal of discussing “the importance of human-animal studies and how this revolutionary area of research can bridge the gap between LC’s campuses while offering students an incredibly rich, diversified academic experience.”

Representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, and the Graduate School of Counseling & Education encouraged students and faculty alike to continue developing coursework, events and support networks to promote the study of human-animal relationships.

“I started the collaboration as a graduate assistant for Pamela Frasch, Assistant Dean of the Animal Law Program & Executive Director of the Center for Animal Law Studies, about 2 1/2 years ago,” said Claire Howe (’14), a Law School graduate.

Howe earned an advanced degree in animal law (LL.M) from the law school last year while organizing LC’s first interdisciplinary Human Animal Studies (HAS) Conference.

According to Beau Broughton (’14), undergraduate alumni and former leader of undergrad animal rights group Animal Collective, “The success of the first interdisciplinary conference in January 2014 really proved that there was a significant amount of interest among the three campuses. We have the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at the law school, a handful of professors and students interested in human-animal studies on the undergraduate campus, and an impressive counseling community with similar interests on the graduate campus. The next step, it seems, is to bring everyone together to ensure that each campus is able to share their respective offerings as much as possible.”

The undergraduate campus has collaborated with the law school in a few endeavors to offer animal studies programs according to David Rosengarden, Animal Law student and former Forest Area Director.

“We’ve had undergraduates audit [animal] law courses,” Rosengarden said. “This past Monday we had a lawyer, the gentleman who founded Direct Action Everywhere (an open rescue organization), come to campus to give a talk about open rescue, animals in agriculture, and animal law. That was really largely sponsored by the undergrad [Animal Collective] group. We try to make sure that we have ways to get undergraduates here too. We’ll be inviting them to the Animal Law Review Symposium on April 3. We’ve also had undergrads volunteer at the Animal Law Conference.”

Rosengarden and his colleagues were even able to work with undergraduate debaters this semester when preparing for a debate conference on Animal Law.

Director of the Animal Law Clinic Kathy Hessler added, “We had an all day food law conference here at the Law School on March 13.  It was co-sponsored by the Business, Environmental and Animal law programs, and is another example of the kind of collaborative work that will benefit our move towards a sustainable HAS program.”

The food law conference covered animal issues ranging from farm animal welfare laws in the European Union to American “ag gag” laws which target activists who document animal abuse in factory farms.

The Graduate School of Counseling & Education discussed pursuing more animal therapy education at this month’s conference.

Speaking of her work with the nonprofit Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), Howe reinforced the importance of human animal studies: “The LC HAS collaboration just made so much sense given that human-animal studies and humane education are so similar. Essentially what we’re talking about, in both fields, is how to think critically and subsequently co-exist ethically and sustainably with our natural world.”

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