American Sociological Association

Section on Animals and Society

Animals Section Scholarship Awards

 

Congratulations to our

2016 ASA Animals & Society Section Award Winners

2016 Teacher Award Recipient: Keri Brandt, Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender/Women’s Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

“After nearly a decade, in the fall of 2015 I was able to teach an “Animals and Society” course as a special topics course in my department.  As I prepared for the course, I made the decision to spend more time getting students out of the classroom and into settings where humans are em- bedded with animals in a variety of contexts. Together we journeyed out on numerous fieldtrips, from the slaughter house to the wolf refuge and in between, and we were able to explore a range of issues that shape the lives of animals. Coincidently, Temple Grandin’s book, Thinking in Pictures, was the campus wide reading book for that same semester. Given this, I wove into my syllabus a greater emphasis on animals in agriculture. Reading Dr. Grandin’s book, listening to her speak when she came to campus, and touring a small slaughterhouse facility created a fertile ground to investigate questions related to animals in agriculture. These questions can indeed be emotionally charged, especially when there is a diversity of views in one classroom. A central goal of the course is to help students understand the complexity of animals lives and encourage them to develop greater sense of empathy for all animals. Additionally, I encouraged us all to challenge some of the dualistic, right/wrong thinking that often frames conversations related to animals in agriculture.  Through many invigorating and sometimes hard discussions, throughout the semester we were able to delve deeply into the contradictory relationships, both indirect and direct, that often shape the intersection of animal and human lives. What emerged was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences of my career and I am happy to say that this course is now officially “on the books” and will be a regularly taught course at the college for years to come. Our department Chair, Becky Clausen, nominated this class for the award. It was a complete surprise and more importantly a great honor to be chosen as this year’s recipient.”

2016 Jane Goodall Award for Graduate Student Scholarship Recipient: Andrea Laurent-Simpson, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at Texas Women's University

Andrea’s manuscript “Extending Identity Theory: Parenting and Identity Formation in the Context of Human-Animal Relationships” uses in-depth interviews of companion animal owner, both with and without human children, to examine the existence of a parent identity that is based in cultural scripts, yet idiosyncratic in nature because it is counter to the non- human animal rather than a human child.  She argues that the formation of role identity in human actors does not necessarily occur only in the context of other humans.  Rather, depend- ing on context and human perception, role identity can be formed as a result of meaningful social interaction with the companion animal. Indeed, she finds that both childfree and childless companion animal guardian narratives demonstrate the presence of substantial behavioral out- put that is strongly aligned with cultural expectations in the United States for the status of parent.   This suggests that a parent identity is internalized for many childless and childfree participants that perceive their animals as surrogate children.  It also highlights the need to consider human-animal interaction as a possible source of role identity development beyond the human-human interaction currently theorized in identity theory for the formation of role identities.

2016 Award for Distinguished Scholarship: David Grazian, Associate Professor of Sociology and Graduate Chair, University of Pennsylvania.  "American Zoo: A Sociological Safari"