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University of Colorado Boulder

Animals and Institutions

University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera


This course explores animals within the context of the functional relationships that sociologists call “institutions.” We first examine the use of animals in laboratory science. We then examine the controversial transformation of animals into “livestock” and "meat." We also explore the perspectives of people committed to rejecting the construction and use of animals as food. Next, we focus on some of the roles of animals in human entertainment with particular attention to dog fighting and zoos. Finally, we investigate animal health and welfare through the lens of dilemmas in veterinary medicine and decisions in animal shelters.


  • Science
    • In this module, you will gain familiarity with the issues that shape the use of animals in scientific research and underlie the controversy surrounding it.
  • Agriculture
    • In this module, you will learn about the system through which animals are transformed into “livestock.”
  • Sport, Entertainment, and Education
    • In this module, you will investigate how animals are central to how humans spend their leisure time.
  • Health and Welfare
    • In this module, you will examine the social worlds of veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

Taught by

Leslie Irvine

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