CourseAnimal Law - Law 630
Instructor Sara Dent   View Faculty Page
Units 2 - Graded


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This class will cover the broad reaching field of Animal Law, illustrating how it dovetails with many other areas of the law, and life as a whole. We will approach the idea holistically, involving more than just dry legal cases, but also incorporating Philosophy, Sociology, and Religion...basic human nature...and how many different things have affected the evolution of Animal Law. This is not an Animal Rights Law class per se, and we will explore some of the distinctions, as well as how Animal Rights, Welfare, and Protection concepts have evolved into what they are today. Finally, we will be reading legal cases in this class, not so much for parsing out the details of the analysis, but for understanding the general rationale of the courts at the time the cases were decided, and whether or not they are still relevant.


Required text is 'Animal Law, Welfare,Interests, and Rights' by David Favre (2nd edition). 

Recommended book:  "An Introduction to Animals and the Law" by Joan Schaffner.

There will also be a few additional cases assigned for reading, and cites will be provided either on the final syllabus or in class. There also may be some suplemental reading materials that will be provided to students in class, prior to them being discussed.

Course Format

This class will be taught loosely by the Socratic method, with discussion of the weekly required readings and answering the questions posed after each reading. We will also have some in-class exercises that will help to illustrate the subject matter of the readings, so the expectation is that each student will be prepared for class. There is a possibility of a guest speaker or two throughout the semester, as well as perhaps a field trip. These details will be provided closer to the actual date, and depend greatly on availability of time. Reading assignments may be adjusted from the original syllabus, depending upon the pace at which we can cover things in class.

Written Assignments

Other than the Final Exam and a few in-class exercises, no additional written assignments are expected

Type of Exam

The exam will be a maximum 15-page take home paper, on a mutually agreed upon subject. The expectation is that the student will take a policy position on an issue, and support/defend that position with cited authorities.

Basis for grading

Class participation is vital to a class like this, and it will be 10% of your grade. As such, attendance is mandatory. The remainder of your grade depends on the Final Exam paper.

Additional Comments

In order to illustrate how prevalent the idea of Animal Law is in the world, I expect that each week students will have found a news story from any media outlet, regarding animals, and bring it to class for a brief discussion. Most importantly, in a class of this nature, there will likely be wildly divergent opinions on some of the topics we will cover. It is vital that everyone remain respectful of each other, and when a topic is extremely passion-invoking, that it is perfectly acceptable to just agree to disagree. There are many different perspectives in this world, and you are not expected to believe in them all.

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