“Why Animals & Speciesism Matter to Social Justice”

7 years ago by NonviolenceUnited.org

November 2, 2010

Panel Discussion Description:
Many leaders/scholars in the social justice movement (such as Coretta Scott King, Cesar Chavez, and Gloria Steinem, among others) adopt/ed an ethical diet and/or animal rights as part of their philosophies. This panel, featuring Professor Emeritus Marc Bekoff, Professor Leslie Irvine, CU grad Matt Bear (from Nonviolence United), and CU student/staff member Tim Putnam will introduce speciesism (and address concepts from environmental justice and nonviolent/social justice theory) to help answer the question, “Why include nonhumans in the social justice discussion?”

Attendees will leave with an understanding of how, by dismantling speciesism in our discussions and work for social justice and diversity, we can better break patterns of dominance, exclusion, oppression, and violence.

*Speciesism is discrimination against an individual or group on the basis of their species. It is often based upon the belief that humans are morally superior and/or the only living beings with feelings and desires worthy of moral inclusion. Speciesism is part of a dominance paradigm that intersects with and perpetuates other forms of violence, oppression, and exploitation like racism, sexism, heterosexism, and environmental degradation.

Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. He is a world-renowned ethologist and author having published over 200 papers and 22 books related to animal behavior, cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds), and animal issues. He is a current faculty member of The Humane Society University and a Scholar-In-Residence at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver. Marc is an ambassador for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program teaching students, senior citizens, and prisoners about the lives of animals and our shared responsibility for the world around us. He is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute. Along with Goodall, he co-founded Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. His latest book, The Animal Manifesto, explores our relationship with animals, and calls on us to “expand our compassion footprint.” Marc’s work shows that animals experience a rich range of emotions and that there is a shared morality across species in terms of our capacity for cooperation, empathy, fairness, and justice.

Leslie Irvine is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her expertise is primarily in social psychology. Her research focuses on the roles of animals in society. Leslie has studied animal sheltering, human-animal play, selfhood among animals, and the feminization of veterinary medicine. After Hurricane Katrina, Leslie worked and conducted research at the facility that housed animals rescued from New Orleans. That participant-observation formed the basis for her 2009 book, Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters (2009; Temple University Press). Her 2004 book, If You Tame Me: Understanding Our Connection with Animals, received the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association. Her articles have appeared in Society & Animals, Anthrozoös, Gender & Society, Social Problems, and Symbolic Interaction. She is currently studying pet ownership among the homeless.

Matt Bear is the founder and director of Nonviolence United (NonviolenceUnited.org), a consumer education NGO educating consumers about the power and implications of their consumer choices especially as related to social justice and social change. He received his Masters degree in sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research interests are in nonviolence theory, social movements, consumer habits, and ending the dominance paradigm. Matt is a popular speaker, teacher, and advisor drawing from his first-hand experience with farmed animals (having grown up on animal farms in southern Minnesota), his efforts to unite social justice issues, his study and writing about nonviolent social change, and his broad understanding of the interconnection of our consumer choices and their repercussions on other people, on the planet, and on animals.