Animals and Us

18-22 June 2012

Teachers: Jonathan Balcombe (videolink), Marc Bekoff (videolink), Richard Ryder, Rachel Hevesi, Satish Kumar

This course is open for bookings.

Our relationship to animals says a great deal about our society and how we relate to the natural world as a whole. What can we learn from this? And what should we change as a result?

This course offers a comprehensive look at current work around all things non-human including animal behaviour, welfare and philosophy. Experts from a range of fields will work with participant to address how animals can help guide us in building a more sustainable role for humans within the natural world.

Since prehistoric times, human societies have hunted, eaten, worshipped, painted,
sacrificed, loved, farmed, and dissected animals.

What can we learn from animals at this point in our history?

In our modern, increasingly urbanised age, most people are more disconnected from animals than ever before, and at the same time there is a huge amount of discussion and concern about how we treat animals.

How might we change our behaviour in light of what non-human species show us?

This is a course for all those who want to explore and reflect on the exciting and deeply revealing worlds in which animals live and develop. This is a wonderful opportunity for people who want to relate these dynamic discoveries to our own species and our relationship with the natural world.

Course Outline

Richard Ryder will discuss the history of the human-nonhuman relationship.

Participants will cover a broad spectrum of history: the days of cave painting some 20,000 years ago through Ancient Egypt, the development of the great religions, the impact of the Black Death and the Renaissance, to the Enlightenment, the Victorians and the Animal Rights Movement of the twentieth century.

Jonathan Balcombe and Marc Bekoff will present findings from recent studies in animal perception, cognition, communication and emotions.

The study illustrates the depth and range of experience animals have. They show that the popular perception that life for animals is a continuous, grim struggle for survival is misguided: as pleasure-seekers, animals’ lust for play, sex, touch and food holds important lessons about how we ought to lead our own lives.

Rachel Hevesi will focus on non-human primates and how our understanding and perception of these, our closest biological relatives, informs our understanding of our biological, social and ethical heritage as human primates.

Participants will look at how studies of primates in their natural habitat and in captivity may illustrate our preconceptions about our own place in the natural world whilst remembering that they have their own intrinsic value as individuals, as species and as parts of ecosystems in the web of life.

During this course you will be invited to reflect on the evolution of your own feelings about animals.

How does the predator/prey relationship found throughout the natural world sit with the human desire to have companion animals?

What role will animals play in human life in the future when most people live in crowded cities?

Is it possible – or desirable – to think about animals without reference to human needs?


Dr Richard Ryder is a psychologist, philosopher and campaigner. Richard came to public attention in 1969 when, having worked in animal research laboratories, he began to speak out against the use of animals in experiments, and became one of the pioneers of the modern animal liberation movement. It was Ryder who in 1970 coined the term speciesism. He is the author of ten non-fiction books including Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism, most recently Speciesism, Painism and Happiness: A Morality for the Twenty-First Century. He has played a leading role in the passage of a score of laws in the EU and UK to protect animals, was Director of the Political Animal Lobby and has several times been national Chairman of the RSPCA. He was Mellon Professor at Tulane University.

Marc Bekoff is a former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a past Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior. Marc is also an ambassador for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, in which he works with students of all ages, senior citizens, and prisoners, and is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute. He and Jane co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – Citizens for Responsible Animal Behavior Studies in 2000. He has published more than 200 papers and 22 books, including The Emotional Lives of Animals and Animals Matter.

Jonathan Balcombe has a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, where he studied communication in bats. He has published over 40 scientific papers on animal behaviour and animal protection and is the author of four books, including Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals, and the just-released The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure. Formerly Senior Research Scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, he is currently Chair of the Animal Studies Department with the Humane Society University.

Rachel Hevesi has worked with primates for nearly 30 years. She writes and speaks about the welfare and conservation of primates for a wide range of audiences, as, for example, the author of a children’s book to promote the protection of primates in South America or as a guest lecturer at university level. She advises NGO’s and governments in the UK and overseas on legislation and primate welfare issues. Rachel is Director of Wild Futures, a UK charity dedicated to the protection of primates and habitats worldwide whose flagship project, The Monkey Sanctuary, is home to primates rescued from the pet and entertainment trade.

Satish Kumar is a former monk and long-term peace and environment activist. He has been quietly setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years. He was just nine when he left his family home to join the wandering Jains and 18 when he decided he could achieve more back in the world, campaigning for land reform in India and working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed

In 1973 Satish settled in the United Kingdom taking up the post of editor of Resurgence magazine, a position he has held ever since, making him the UK’s longest-serving editor of the same magazine. During this time, he has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally respected ecological and educational ventures including Schumacher College. Read more

Click here to download his full biography

Related Media

Should apes have rights? Richard Ryder

Jonathan Balcombe on Animal Emotions

Science & Animal Activism with Marc Bekoff

Course Fees

All course fees include accommodation, food, field trips and all teaching sessions.

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