Animals matter for human existence in so many ways that it is difficult to imagine the entity we call “society” without them. They figure heavily in our language, food, clothing, family structure, economy, education, entertainment, science, recreation, and other areas of social life. In this sociology specialization, you will investigate a range of topics related to animals and society, some of which may be controversial. Although this is a sociology course, the field of human-animal studies is interdisciplinary. Many of the suggested readings are from fields outside of sociology, but this specialization emphasizes their sociological relevance throughout each course.

By completing this specialization, you will be able to:

  • Account for the shifting roles and statuses of animals in society and their social, cultural, and ethical consequences
  • Use key perspectives and concepts in the field of human/animal studies to explain the status of animals in contemporary society
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of considering animals in analyses of social issues
  • Analyze the socially constructed boundaries drawn between humans and animals and review their consequences


  • Animals, Self & Society
  • Animals in Institutions
  • The Changing Status & Perception of Animals

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