LS 812: Contested Relationships between Humans, Ecosystems and Other-than-Human Animals

Spring 2016  | Dr. Stephen Duguid


As the ‘environmental issue’ becomes more pervasive in politics, economics and culture it becomes vastly more complex. Positions are staked out in support of animals, humans, and ecosystems – each with accompanying rationales, theories and arguments (e.g. ecofeminism, animal rights, deep ecology). Ethicists, Ethologists and Ecologists argue amidst and between themselves about where we should place our primary focus in trying to sort out what we should ‘do’ about issues like climate change, species extinction, habitat loss and animal welfare. In LS 812 we will explore these issues via a selection of core texts and the specific research projects each student undertakes.

Readings: In recent years there has been an explosion of popular and academic writing on environmental issues. Of specific relevance to this course will be readings in areas such as moral philosophy, environmental ethics, critical animal studies, posthumanism and ecofeminism. As the course develops and you begin to develop specific research interests I will be suggesting readings relevant to those topics. As well, on several occasions we will discuss your individual research topics as a group so that others may suggest resources as well. The reading for the seminar consists of several core texts that we will discuss at some length in the seminars:

Course Requirements:

The core requirement is a research paper on a topic to be decided upon by the 4th week of the term.  The seminar time in Week 9 will be set aside for a full discussion of all of the research topics.

Each student will also be responsible for introducing one of the seminar readings.

Seminar Schedule – LS 812 is scheduled for Tuesday evening

Week 1 (12 January) – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Week 2 (19 January) – Kay Milton, Loving Nature

Week 3 (26 January) – Kay Milton, Loving Nature

Week 4 (2 February) – Neil Evernden, The Natural Alien


Week 5 (16 February) - Neil Evernden, The Natural Alien

Week 6 (23 February) - Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons

Week 7 (1 March) -  Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons

Week 8 (8 March)  - Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons
Jacques Derrida, The Animal that therefore I Am Part 1

Week 9 (15 March)  - Review of Research Projects

Week 10 (22 March)  - Jacques Derrida The Animal that therefore I Am

Week 11 (29 March) - Michel Serres, The Natural Contract
Jacques Derrida, The Animal that therefore I Am

Week 12 (5 April)Michel Serres, The Natural Contract


Week 13  (12 April) - Pope Francis, Laudato Si Encyclical

Course Readings:

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (Oxford Univ. Pres, 1968) isbn 0--19-500777-8)

Kay Milton, Loving Nature: Towards an Ecology of Emotion (Routledge, 2002) isbn 0-415-25354-3

Neil Evernden, The Natural Alien: Humankind and Environment (Toronto, 2006) isbn 0-8020-7785-4

Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to be Human (Columbia UP, 2009) isbn 978-0-231-14727-9

Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am (Fordham Univ Pr. 2008) isbn 978-0-8232-2791-4

 Michel Serres, The Natural Contract (Univ of Michigan Pr 2008) isbn 0-472-06549-1

 Pope Francis, Laudato Si Papal Encyclical  (