Course: Anthrozoology

As this year is the second of my masters programme I am spending the time of a full semester on my degree project (read more here). Even though I am quite excited about the topic, at this moment I am still in the exploring phase and I feel like there isn’t much to write about it yet. However, last year I’ve taken part in many courses and I thought it may be of interest to tell more about them. The courses of the masters programme in Animal Science are currently being changed, renewed or fused together. Therefore you may not find the courses I took in the programme any longer, but most of them will be part of another, larger course in the new syllabus.

An… thro… zo… sorry, what?

You may not be familiar with the term anthrozoology. Trust me, you’re not alone. But you probably have heard of the term zoology, meaning animal biology, which our study of animal science is largely based on. Anthrozoology is about human-animal interactions. Sometimes it is also referred to as human-non-human-animal studies. A small field in science that has been gaining popularity rapidly over the past few years. There are not that many places in the world to study it (yet?) and I was very excited about SLU offering this course. I think this topic is fascinating and I am somewhat surprised there isn’t more research done into it yet. After all we humans interact with animals very frequently. What would the world look like without pets? But also keep in mind all the people who interact with animals while working; like farmers, security workers and zookeepers.

“Research findings are often related to a specific context and it can be hard to predict whether the conclusions will be relevant to other situations.”

The course was worth 5 ECTS credits and built up out of lectures, scientific seminars, case discussions and project work. Most time of this course I spent on the project work, which took place in small groups. The instructions were as followed: Each group will work with a problem in human-animal relations in dogs, cats, horses, farm animals or other pets. The groups should find scientific records on how well different methods work. The end product will be advices to the owners based on scientific knowledge. At the end of the course the groups should make a role play where the meeting between animal, owner and the therapist is played for the others.”

Our group had chosen to work with separation anxiety in dogs. To my surprise it was a well studied subject meaning we could find several papers related to the topic. The hard part was to translate the findings of these papers into practical advices. Research findings are often related to a specific context and it can be hard to predict whether the conclusions will be relevant to other situations. It becomes worse if the studies contradict each other. The role play was a new form of examination to me and though many of us were sceptical at first, it worked out really well. The role play focused on the practical part while the individual paper gave room to discuss the science behind it.

If you still have any questions you are more than welcome to ask them in a reply below.


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