Animal Studies Scholars

Animal Studies is an interdisciplinary field in which scholars from a variety of disciplines explore questions related to animals. For example, a historian may explore how animals have participated in war (from homing pigeons to bomb sniffing rats), a literary scholar may study animals as literary devices across genres, a geographer may discuss how animals have shaped landscapes, a philosopher may grapple with the ethics of captivity, and a psychologist may seek ways that humans have shaped animal minds. 

This emerging field has gained a great deal of traction, with several colleges and universities developing Animal Studies majors (i.e., Wesleyan University, Eastern Kentucky University) and the development of a new biennial conference (The Living With Animals Conference, established 2013).  Professor Furlong’s Animals Studies Scholars First-Year Experience features a Gateway Animal Studies course, participating in the Living With Animals Conference, and working to build animals enrichment devices (mentally stimulating ‘games’ such as a complex foraging basket for elephants, a food puzzle for gorillas, simulated kelp for seals to hide and play in, or a set of wind chimes for orangutans) at the Louisville Zoo over spring break.

Dog Science Lab

The Animal Studies Scholars program is a full-year experience. All Animal Studies Scholars will be enrolled in a Gateway Colloquium in Fall 2018, and will commit to participating actively in the intellectual and cultural life on campus. Here are some examples; you will:


  • Enroll in an Animal Studies Gateway Colloquia course, Fellow Creatures / Alien Minds: Encountering Animals Through Art, Science, and Ethics , with Professor Ellen Furlong in Fall 2018.

  • Engage with prominent scholars and artists working in areas of Animal Studies, through attending events on campus and joining speakers and artists for dinners, lunches and/or special events.

  • Work with others in the class on a group Animal Studies project relating to animal lives.

  • Submit and perhaps present your group project at the international Living with Animals Conference (Richmond, Kentucky; March 2019)

  • Observe animals and build enrichment items for them during the 2019 Animal Scholars Retreat at the Louisville Zoo over spring break (March 8 - 18, 2019)

  • Receive a $1000 Animal Studies Scholarship to cover the direct charges associated with the Spring Break Animal Studies Scholars Retreat  and attending the Living with Animals Conference.

Admission to Animal Studies Scholar program is based on materials you have already submitted to IWU, together with your brief response to the questions in the attached application link.  Selections will be based on your curiosity about the scholarly or artistic study of animals as revealed through your expressed passion for literature, ethics, history, art, psychology, biology, anthropology, or other approaches to thoughtful consideration or treatment of animals. We will also be looking for you to bring your talents, skills, and interests to bear on our collective work. Perhaps you have some skills with building or crafting (think of creating and building enrichments for animals at the zoo); maybe you are good at observing your pets and wondering what is going on with them; possibly you are an amateur photographer, or a budding poet with a strong interest in animal life. We will be looking to develop a group with a variety of skills, so please share yours!

The 2019 First Year Experience course options can be viewed by clicking the link below.

FYE 2019 Courses