A new course in anthrozoology lets students learn about human and animal interactions
North Dakota State University students have the opportunity to earn general education credits and deepen their understanding of animals each spring by taking an Introduction to Anthrozoology course.
Anthrozoology is the study of interactions between animals and humans. There are many different subfields within the study such as human attitudes towards animals or how animals are useful in different cultures.
Many colleges across the United States have incorporated the anthrozoology major. Carroll College in Montana, Canisius College in New York and Beacon College in Florida are some of the schools that offer a major or minor in the field.
Lisa Christenson, Associate Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the veterinary technology program, stated that schools offering the major are, “all across the U.S., not just isolated to one area.”
“Anthrozoology really has been a field that I think has taken off immensely in the last 5, 10, 15 years,” Christenson added.
NDSU is among the many universities that offer an Introduction to Anthrozoology course. The course, ANSC 200, was first offered in the spring of 2019. “It is very much a discussion-based course,” Loren Baranko-Fraught, an NDSU graduate with a master’s degree in Animal Sciences, said.
The idea for the course started back in August of 2018. Both Christenson and Baranko-Fraught had a similar background growing up. They both had livestock animals and companion animals, such as cats and dogs, when they were younger. This exposure to animals led both of them to form a mutual love for all animals.
The anthrozoology class asks questions about how we interact and think about different animals. An example of a discussion the class might have would be something like how animal appearances alter our perspectives of animals. After determining those traits, an anthrozoologist might ask if those characteristics are logical or illogical.
ANSC 200 is also the first animal science course to be recognized for a general education requirement. This course is offered every spring and grants three credits towards the social and behavioral sciences general.
“Anthrozoology really has been a field that I think has taken off immensely in the last 5, 10, 15 years.”Lisa Christenson, Associate Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the veterinary technology program
Although there is only one anthrozoology course at NDSU by name, there are many other courses that will further one’s understanding of the field. Courses in animal science, biology or anthropology are all related to the field.
NDSU students seem to be interested in the course as Christenson explained, “Each time we’ve offered it we’ve had a full class and a waitlist.”
Since humans interact with animals on a day to day basis either by eating them or physically interacting with them, the anthrozoology class will help educate almost anyone about their interactions with animals.
NDSU also has a student-led anthrozoology club. The club is a part of the animal sciences department and is faculty advised by Erika Berg and Chris Byrd, both Associate Professors of animal science.
The club’s main goal is to understand the different ways that humans interact with animals as they hope to provide keynote speakers and hands-on access with animals.