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The Human-Animal Studies Report
August 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Animals & Society Institute's Human-Animal Studies Report. 

The new semester has begun for most Human-Animal Studies educators, amidst a deepening global pandemic we all thought was on the wane. Tensions are high as academic institutions struggle with economic realities while trying to come up with plans keep faculty and students safe. For many, these or similar pandemic-related concerns overlay an ongoing thrum of angst related to the environmental destruction we are witnessing and living.

In this month’s Animals & COVID-19 section I explore the connections between the pandemic, the climate emergency, and biodiversity loss; address the very real despair many are feeling in the face of this ecological crisis; and offer some meaningful actions we can take.

I hope you and those you care about continue to weather the changes brought about by the pandemic, and that you all stay healthy and safe.


Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire. Books and articles include, where possible, links to access them directly from this email. Because publication reference styles vary by source, they might not always be consistent or pretty, but they will get you there. To read more about the topics discussed, click the bold hyperlinks for source material and additional information.

Please send your comments, suggestions, and submissions to: [email protected], and if possible include a URL link to your project or announcement.

Animals and COVID-19

The Climate Emergency and Biodiversity Loss—
Meaningful Actions in the Face of Ecological Despair

The statistics are sobering and the associations, undeniable. The interconnections between various aspects of the environmental destruction we are witnessing—and living—are complex, intensifying, and undeniably anthropogenic. 

The climate crisis has fueled record-breaking average high temperatures worldwide, with the fallout of drought, major fires, increased tropical storm activity, sea level rise, and flooding—all coming more frequently and intensely than previously seen. In addition to and linked with these climate emergency-caused outcomes, we and other animals face the impacts of the loss of biological diversity, a Sixth Extinction which is undoubtably the result of human actions, including climate change. Coupled with a deepening global pandemic both caused and affected by the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, that’s a lot to deal with on a daily basis.

Like the frog in boiling water, many have become desensitized, inured to this new “normal” that is upon us as a means of coping with the stress it provokes. Environmental and animal advocates are doing their best to remind us that none of this is at all normal, and something needs to be done. 

In what follows, I take biodiversity loss as a starting point and hub for these interconnected issues. Biodiversity loss refers to a decrease in biological diversity within a species, an ecosystem, a given geographic area, or the Earth as a whole. This loss in the variety of life can lead to a breakdown in the functioning of the ecosystem where decline has occurred. A 2018 report published in PNAS assessing the biomass distribution on Earth concluded that wild animal populations declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, and losses were expected to reach 67 percent by 2020.

Researchers estimate that the current rate of species loss varies between 100 and 10,000 times the background extinction rate seen in the fossil record. As of 2019, up to one million plant and animal species were facing extinction due to human activities, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Biodiversity loss is driven, among other anthropogenic factors, by habitat loss and climate change. Furthermore, both habitat and biodiversity loss contribute to zoonotic disease pandemics, according to a 2021 study published in PNAS, because the animals likely to be zoonotic hosts often proliferate in human-dominated landscapes, increasing the likelihood of spillover. Biodiversity, then, benefits humans because “In less-disturbed areas, however, these zoonotic reservoir hosts are less abundant and nonreservoirs predominate.”

Biodiversity loss feeds back into the climate crisis because the forests, wetlands, grasslands and other ecosystems destroyed to create space for industrialized animal agriculture regulate greenhouse gasses by providing carbon storage and protect coastlines from storm surges and erosion. Among other effects, this undermines nature’s ability to protect against extreme weather impacts—accelerating climate change and increasing vulnerability to it. Climate change impacts biodiversity loss through habitat destruction that is already prompting large-scale animal migrations as land animals attempt to move to cooler, higher elevations, and marine animals to colder, deeper waters. For these reasons, in June 2021 the United Nations released a report produced by both its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)arguing that biodiversity and the climate crisis should be tackled together.

Industrialized animal food production is implicated in climate change, habitat loss and zoonotic pandemics. A report by proveg international notes three mutually reinforcing factors contributed to the type of zoonotic spillover that caused the COVID-19 pandemic and create a recipe for future zoonotic pandemics: the destruction of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity, the use of wild animals for food, and intensified animal agriculture. In a recent interview, biologist and author Jonathan Balcombe pointed out that  “Anyone who thinks our meat habit isn’t a major if not the leading cause of the climate emergency, and current and future pandemics, is kidding themselves.” 

According to data compiled by Britannica, half of the world’s natural ecosystems have been converted to agriculture, and some 77 percent of agricultural land is used for grazing by livestock. Proving out the 2018 study noted above, this massive conversion of wild ecosystems for animal agriculture has produced a 60 percent decline in the number of vertebrates worldwide since 1970. As the information collected by shows, the biomass of humans and their livestock greatly outweigh the biomass of wild mammals and wild birds. 

Lest I be charged at this point with pandering to—or even promoting—collective misery, I should mention there is a method to my particular madness. A recent research summary by Ana Alvarelhão of Faunalytics of the article, Optimistic vs. pessimistic endings in climate change appeals, points out that “For animal advocates, this study affirms the role of negative affect as a tool for heightening perception of climate change risk…. [A]dvocates should use this information to tailor their messaging about climate change to be the most effective at increasing people’s risk perception, and the belief that their own behavior matters to trigger the changes needed. While climate change is a different issue than factory farming per se, there is a great deal of overlap. Climate change advocacy has an effect on the lives of animals, and this study may offer ideas for how we can study animal advocacy messaging as well.” With this in mind, I will echo cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff’s take on the ecocide we are seeing and its connection to the COVID-19 pandemic: “Things are very bad and likely to get worse before they get better.”

My sense is that most reading this are quite aware of the risks and potential outcomes of climate change and biodiversity loss, and are already attempting to cope with no little grief over it all. It is overwhelming and terrifying. Indeed, my Google search this morning for “climate change angst” yielded over 9.4 million results. There are, however, actions we—both the collectively and individually—can take that are both personally empowering and do make a difference.

First, non-anthropocentric approaches are needed. Moving from the collective to the individual, this can be approached both by a shift to economic systems focused on sustainability rather than obsessed with growth, and by taking serious aim at global animal food production models that contribute to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

An article out this month in the journal BioScience by Vucetich et al., A Minimally Nonanthropocentric Economics: What Is It, Is It Necessary, and Can It Avert the Biodiversity Crisis?, suggests that traditional economics are anthropocentric, and provides an economic avenue to view the intrinsic value in “natural capital.” “Stemming the biodiversity crisis” according to the authors, “requires widespread nonanthropocentric modes of action and decision-making.” To do this, requires “better understand how economic decision-making should account for interspecies distributive justice and human well-being.” We can and should back individuals and organizations promoting non-anthropocentric economic schemes that prioritize sustainability and place value on the natural world.

Economics also play into global food production. Industrialized animal farming drives the suffering of farmed animals and has significant land, water, and ecological footprints that contribute to climate disruption. Eating more plants and less meat would take pressure off land needed to feed a growing world, according to a recent United Nations reportThe growth in plant-based proteins I reported in an earlier piece in this series shows the economic viability of such change. A commitment to our own thoughtful food choices and support of policy that take these elements into account helps at all levels.

In addition to the larger-mammal biodiversity loss we are witnessing is an equally troubling decreasing abundance and indeed collapse in those crucial fauna at the bottom of ecological food chains: the insects we rely on for pollination, and birds and small mammals depend on for food. This “insect apocalypse” keys to agricultural intensification (including pesticide use), climate change, and habitat destruction. The latter factor is impacted by the vast acreage of monoculture grass lawns (that for the most part serve no purpose and support no life) favored by those in the global north. Turf lawns reduce natural habitat, and their ongoing maintenance utilizes treatments that kill the native insects and/or the plants they need to live. The goal of weed-free and bug-free lawns is antithetical to biologically diverse and impacts whole ecosystems form the bottom up. 

My final suggestion deals not with global economics, but rather with individual action that I note from experience also serves as a rewarding means of staving off stress and grief in this time of global environmental threat. Stop being manipulated by the lawn care industry and forget the perfect lawn. Leave your leaves, where many insects overwinter as larvae. Create your own sanctuary, no matter how small. Even a balcony can be an ecological haven for insects, especially when it holds the native plants upon which those insects are likely to rely. The United Kingdom’s Royal Horticultural Society recently recognized the importance of biodiversity in awarding a gold metal to a garden full native plants, considered “weeds,” that are essential for wildlife. The results of such action could be enormous. According to entomologist Douglas Tallamy, “If American homeowners converted half of their lawn to productive native plant communities, they would create a 'Homegrown National Park'” larger than the territory held in most US national parks combined. Tallamy’s book along with The ARK website, both noted below, provide specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own outdoor conservation space. This feasible and personally rewarding change comes—literally—from the ground up.

Certainly, we all long for a world where the richness of species with whom we share space was not on the decline. Ultimately, the real remedy for biodiversity loss—and the climate emergency, and future zoonotic pandemics—is mending our ruptured relationship with the natural world. If the negative affect I may have created here fosters change at any level, it has served its purpose. As a climate crisis refugee with the wherewithal to have left my beloved home in what has become the worsening inferno that is California, let me close with this: The risk is real. It’s hot out there, and it’s only going to get hotter.


The Animals & Society Institute is a member of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Argent, G. 2020. Animals and COVID-19: Of Climate Change, Animals and Pandemics. Animal & Society Institute. Ann Arbor, MI.

The Ark (Acts of Restorative Kindness for the earth)

The Global Research Network’s Animals & Biodiversity site.

Riebel, L (2012). Endangered Species: Saving Them and Ourselves. Animal and Society Institute. Ann Arbor, MI. 


It’s been a busy month at ASI, with the following exciting developments:

Call for Board Members. Do you want to help create a more compassionate world? Would you like to see evidence-based research used to strengthen human-animal relationships? If you do, you may be a match for ASI’s open board member positions. Whether you have experience working with a hands-on board or are thinking about joining a board for the first time, this may be the right opportunity for you. Read more about what the position entails and how to apply here.

ASI Launches Policy Paper Series and Call for Papers. ASI is launching a policy papers series to analyze and guide policy decisions relating to animals. To that end, the Institute is soliciting abstracts for policy papers on the subjects of: Companion Animals and Social Media, Urban Wildlife, Zoological Parks, Environment and Agriculture, and Training Schemes for Domestic and Domesticated Animals. These first five subjects represent an early round of analyses and will be supplemented in subsequent rounds by additional topical emphases. Find out more here.

ASI Board Members to Co-teach BARK Animal Abuse Intervention Course. Human-Animal social work and mental health professionals, join ASI Board Members Dr. Kenneth Shapiro and Dr. Kimberly Spanjol at their upcoming live virtual course Wednesday, October 13, and Thursday, October 21, 2021 6:00–7:30pm ET. The course is presented through the NYU Silver School of Social Work. The course will use the ASI course, BARK  (Behavioral Accountability, Responsibility and Knowledge) a diversion program based on The Identification, Assessment, and Treatment of Adults Who Abuse Animals: The AniCare Approach (Shapiro & Henderson, Springer, 2016). The course is NYSED and ASWB/ACE approved for 4 Continuing Education Contact Hours. Full course and registration details here.

ASI is pleased to announce that its managed publication, the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, exceeded last year’s full-text downloads of articles, with 26,694 articles downloaded from the Taylor & Francis website last quarter. Check out some of them on the Taylor & Francis website, through ASI’s searchable Digital Archive, and below.

The latest issue of the ASI-managed publication, the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Volume 24, Issue 3, July-September 2021, is available now with the following articles: 

Companion Animal 
N. Endenburg, G. Takashima, H. A. van Lith, H. Bacon, S. J. Hazel, R. Jouppi, N. Y. P. Lee, K. Seksel & S. Ryan.

William P. Brown & Valerie L. Stephan

Rossana Capoferri, Katia Parati, Roberto Puglisi, Livia Moscati, Marco Sensi, Guerino Lombardi, Gianpietro Sandri, Carlo Briani & Andrea Galli

Dayane Lemos Teixeira, Leif Lykke & Laura Boyle

Meghan M. Holst & Tim Miller-Morgan

Ana Isabel Soriano Jimenez, Massimiliano Drago, Dolors Vinyoles & Carmen Maté

Glenn Borgmans, Rupert Palme, Adina Sannen, Hilde Vervaecke & Raoul Van Damme.


ASI Issues Brill Human-Animal Studies Book Series Call for Proposals
The Brill Human-Animal Studies book series, in conjunction with the Animals & Society Institute, seeks new proposals from across the various disciplines that comprise the field of Human-Animal Studies. From the humanities to the social sciences to the natural sciences, the series seeks to publish groundbreaking work that advances our understanding of human-animal relationships. The broad scope of the series is an acknowledgement of the contributions of a range of perspectives from across academia that often intersect in meaningful ways to build a scholarship of the nonhuman experience through a human lens. In the process, these books challenge the disciplinary cloisters that often hinder the transdisciplinary analysis that is vital to one the fastest growing fields in the academy. Find out more here.

This month’s LINK-Letter from the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence covers: Veterinarians are being warned that animal cruelty is the “abused canary” in the coal mine. 13 shelters shared $241,715 in grants to become pet-friendly. And a UN report describes animal abuse’s adverse impact on children. 

Check out The Anthrozoology Podcast where the podcrew Michelle SzydlowskiKris Hill, and Sarah Oxley Heaney explore a variety of human-animal relationship issues (such as ethics in research, the meat paradox, animal welfare, domesticity, etc), and invite guests (both early career scholars and established academics) to discuss current topics in anthrozoology.Just released, an interview with ASI Board Member Tom Aiello about the intersection of racism and speciesism.

Documentary Educational Resources, an educational film distributor and the only organization to specialize in ethnographic and anthropological media, has released a new film, Fireland Dogs (Perros del Fin del Mundo). The film addresses Argentina's feral dog population and raises important questions about the human role in domestication and neglect of animals. 

GOOD DOCS has released the film, The Last Pig. This award-winning documentary chronicles the life of a farmer in crisis: after a decade of raising pigs, he can no longer bear the ultimate act of betrayal. Set against the stunning backdrop of Upstate New York, The Last Pig documents his final year on the farm. 

HAS Funding and Opportunities

Eckerd College's Animal Studies program is conducting a search for a tenure-track faculty position (Assistant Professor of Animal Studies with an emphasis on social sciences/human animal interactions) with a start date of August 2022. Please see the attached link for the full job ad description. Applications must be complete by October 15, 2021. Inquiries may be sent to Dr. Erin Frick ([email protected]).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has several funding opportunities for Human-Animal Interaction research. The next deadline is November 30, 2021.

Conferences, Podcasts, Webinars, Lectures, and Courses

This section includes both upcoming live events, and past events that were recorded.

The International Animal Rights Conference 2021 is taking place September 2-5 at Kulturfabrik in Esch, Luxembiuirg. The conference is both in-person and partly online.

The next British Animal Studies Network session, Loss, will take place September 7-9, 2021.Pre-recorded papers will be shared in advance on the BASN Youtube channel, and the following discussion sessions, keynote lectures and poetry reading will take place via Zoom. Please register for free for the conference, and to receive links to the recordings, here.

A webinar looking at a new tool which is about to be launched: The Companion-Animal Multi-Species Risk Management Tool (CAMSRMT), will take place September 12, 2021. The tool has been developed, with the support of Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) funding, and aims to support the safe inclusion of personal pets (that is, those that people have pre-residential relationships with) in communal residential aged care. Find out more here.

Agri-food Policies as Science and Technology since 1850: Knowledge, Environment, Society will take place September 24-26, 2021. Attendance is free, registration is mandatory by September 15.

Phoenix Zones Initiative is launching a free eight-week online interactive seminar, September 30–November 18, 2021, for professionals and advocates interested in a Just One Health approach, which centers justice and primary prevention within local and global programs, policies, and research priorities. For the first cohort, they are inviting professionals working in human and veterinary medicine, the sciences, policy and ethics, and social and environmental advocacy to participate. The seminar will provide resources, expertise, and mentorship to help advance holistic, evidence-based interventions that address the needs of vulnerable people, animals, and communities. Find out more about the seminar, and to register, or for more information, contact Shannon Holder at [email protected].

The International Society for Equitation Science is holding an online conference October 20-21, Advancing Equestrian Practice to Improve Equine Quality of Life.

2021 Centers for the Human-Animal Bond Conference organized by Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine will take place November 4, 2021. Bringing together a diverse set of national and international academic Human-Animal Interaction centers and institutes, this conference will serve as a platform for interdisciplinary conversation with opportunities for the exchange and discussion of new ideas for future research in regards to animal-assisted interventions and additional dimensions of the human-animal bond. The conference is virtual and free.

New HAS Books and Monographs

Following are some recent books published of interest to the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Emanuele Coccia, 2021.  MetamorphosesPolity Books.

Mara-Daria Cojocaru, 2021. Passionate Animals: Emotions, Animal Ethics, and Moral Pragmatics.Lexington Books.

Andrea Laurent-Simpson, 2021. Just Like Family: How Companion Animals Joined the Hosehold. (Animals in Context). NYU Press.

Emma Marris, 2021. Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Baptiste Morizot, 2021. On the Animal TrailPolity Books.

New HAS Articles and Book Chapters

Darren Chang and Lauren Corman, 2021, Multispecies Disposability: Taxonomies of Power in a Global Pandemic. Animal Studies Journal, 10(1).

Fernandez, E.J.; Upchurch, B.; Hawkes, N.C. Public Feeding Interactions as Enrichment for Three Zoo-Housed ElephantsAnimals 2021, 11, 1689.

Catherine Oliver, 2021. Returning to 'The Good Life'? Chickens and Chicken-keeping during Covid-19 in BritainAnimal Studies Journal, 10(1). 

Sandra Swart (2021) At the Edge of the Anthropocene: Crossing Borders in Southern African Environmental HistorySouth African Historical Journal, 73:1, 1-10, DOI: 10.1080/02582473.2021.1939768.

ten Have H., Patrão Neves M. (2021) Animal Ethics (See Animal Welfare; Animal Rights; Animal Research; Vegetarianism; Zoocentrism). In: Dictionary of Global Bioethics. Springer, Cham.

Veit, Walter and Browning, Heather (2021) Extending animal welfare science to include wild animalsAnimal Sentience. 31(1).

Wild, Isabella & Gedge, Amy & Burridge, Jessica & Burford, John. (2021). The Impact of COVID-19 on the Working Equid Community: Responses from 1530 Individuals Accessing NGO Support in 14 Low- and Middle-Income CountriesAnimals. 11. 1363. 10.3390/ani11051363.

Calls for Papers: Journals and Chapters

Expressions of interest to Wild Animal Initiative's call for proposals is on the theme of juvenile welfare are due August 29, 2021.

A call is out for contributions to an edited volume, Life and the Construction of Reality, with an element addressing such questions as: What evidence do we have that animals literally construct reality? What can it mean for human-animal relations, if both humans and other animals are able to construct reality? What methodological opportunities and limitations exist in understanding non-human reality construction? For more information, contact: [email protected] and [email protected].  Submissions accepted through September 30, 2021.

A Special Issue of the journal Animals, "Wildlife Conservation and Ethics" is open for submission. The deadline for submission of manuscripts is September 30, 2021, but it can be eventually extended on request.

You are invited to contribute a scholarly essay on the topic “Communication in Defense of Nonhuman Animals During an Extinction and Climate Crisis,” to the 2022 special issue we are editing for the open-access international journal Journalism and Media. (The Article Processing Charge (APC) for open access publication in this Special Issue will be waived, which means that you have the privilege to publish your paper free of charge in an open access scholarly journal. The submission deadline is October 31, 2021.

A call for a Special Issue of the journal Religions is out on the topic “Religions, Animals, and X,” where “X” be other critical categories connected with social movements like coloniality, gender and sexuality, queerness, or race; topical areas of broad social concern like anti-Black racism, anti-immigrant racism, climate change, factory farming, hunting, and pandemics; new areas of religion scholarship like affect, disability, ecology, migration, monsters, plants, and science fiction; critical terms in religious studies like belief, body, grief, life, mourning, person, sacrifice, and scripture. Direct questions to Katherine Mershon, [email protected]The deadline for manuscript submissions is November 15, 2021. 

Call for papers: Special issue of the APA Human-Animals Interaction Bulletin (HAIB) is focusing on animal hospice/ palliative care, euthanasia, and grief/loss related to companion animals. Direct inquiries to the guest editor: Phyllis Erdman: [email protected]Paper submissions are due January 13, 2022.

Guest editor Kendra Coulter has a call out for a Special Issue of Animals covering “Frontiers of Animal Protection.” This Special Issue will assemble high-quality social science research that considers the social, legal, political, and employment dimensions of animal protection. Despite its importance for protecting diverse kinds of animals from human harm and the complementary benefits for vulnerable people and public safety, the animal protection landscape remains underexamined. Deadline for manuscript submissions: March 31, 2022. 

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

The Society for Companion Animal Studies is calling for posters to be presented at its virtual conference, Animal-Assisted Interventions: Research Meets Practice, Sunday, September 19, 2021, 9 am – 5 pm.  The poster should address the theme of the conference and be submitted to i[email protected] by August 31, 2021. Download the full conference agenda here.

A Call for Papers is out for a conference, Animal Minds, February 17-18, 2022 hosted by the Institute for Practical Ethics and Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego. Keynote speaker bio: Kristin Andrews is the author of The Animal Mind (Routledge, 2015. In addition to Andrews’ keynote the workshop will include 10 papers by philosophers and/or philosophically informed researchers in other disciplines. Most are expected to focus directly on philosophical issues related to animal minds, but a smaller number may address issues at the intersection of animal cognition and animal ethics. Questions about the workshop can be directed to Andy Lamey at [email protected]Abstracts are due by 5:00 pm PST Wednesday September 1. 2021.

The University of Warsaw and via Zoom worldwide conference, Re-Thinking Agency: Non-Anthropocentric Approaches, will take place February 3-5, 2022. The conference will feature a keynote lecture by Karen Barad (University of California, Santa Cruz). Deadline for abstract submission: November 15, 2021.

As you can see, ASI is promoting a tremendous amount of activity in the field of Human-Animal Studies. We always invite your input and participation.

Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting ASI's Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Human-Animal Studies Program Director