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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Christians and Other Animals (DIVI10105)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHow do, and how should, Christians think about nonhuman animals? Is Christianity inherently 'anthropocentric'? How are nonhuman animals depicted in the Bible? What are the theological and ethical challenges posed by species extinction, the use of animals for food, or simply the acknowledgement that humans are animals? This course enables you to engage with contemporary debates about animals in Christian theology, ethics, biblical studies and science & religion.
Course description Academic description:
This course will enable you to understand, engage with and critically evaluate a range of historical and contemporary debates about nonhuman animals, in the fields of Christian theology, biblical studies, theological ethics, and science and religion.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
In weeks 1-3, you will be given an overview of key scientific, biblical and theological concepts and ideas that are required in order to engage with questions around nonhuman animals. In weeks 4-11, you will be introduced to specific issues and themes, each of which will be addressed through one or more of the different subdisciplinary approaches used on the module. The issues and themes discussed will vary with the availability of teaching staff, but the course will always include at least one week focused on Christian responses to a topic of contemporary public debate. Themes likely to be covered include: creation and creatures; how ideas of sin and redemption apply to nonhuman animals; the human-animal boundary, and what it means to understand humans as animals; animals in the wisdom tradition; extinction and nonhuman animal suffering as theological challenges; and the ethics of eating animals.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course will be taught through weekly two-hour classes, for which some preparation will be required. Each class will normally include an overview of the topic, and opportunities for extended discussion of reading and other preparation. Assessment will be through coursework only - a research poster and an essay. The final class will be a 'poster session' in which students will have the opportunity to see and discuss each others' research posters.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Online Activities 11, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 161 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) - A research poster with accompanying reflective narrative - 40%
One page with a maximum of 500 words, accompanied by a reflective narrative of a maximum of 1000 words.
Must incorporate at least two disciplinary approaches (e.g. biblical studies and biology, or ethics and systematics)

- An essay of 2000 words on a choice of topics - 60%
Feedback There will be opportunities (a) to submit an essay plan for formative feedback, and (b) to meet with the course organizer to discuss plans for the research poster.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate, and apply in the development of an extended argument, critical understanding of debates about nonhuman animals in Christian thought and the wider implications of these debates
  2. Show awareness of, and reflect critically on the uses of, key sources for Christian thought about nonhuman animals
  3. Demonstrate critical awareness of, and apply to a contemporary question or problem, the contribution of at least two different subdisciplinary approaches within Theology & RS - history, biblical studies, theology, ethics, science & religion - to understanding the place of nonhuman animals in Christian thought
  4. Use their knowledge and understanding of debates about nonhuman animals in Christian thought to respond to contemporary issues about nonhuman animals, arising within and beyond the academy
  5. Communicate academic knowledge and understanding clearly to a nonspecialist audience
Reading List
David Clough, On Animals: Vol 1. Systematic Theology (T&T Clark, 2013) and On Animals: Vol 2. Theological Ethics (T&T Clark, 2020).

Celia Deane-Drummond, A Primer in Ecotheology (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2017).

Laura Hobgood-Oster, Holy Dogs and Asses: Animals in the Christian Tradition (University of Illinois Press, 2008)

Deborah M. Jones, The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals (Gracewing, 2009)

Grace Kao, 'Creaturely Solidarity: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relations', Journal of Religious Ethics 2014

Andrew Linzey & Tom Regan, eds., Animals & Christianity: A Book of readings (Wipf & Stock 1990).

Stephen D. Moore, ed., Divinimality: Animal Theory, Creaturely Theology (Fordham University Press, 2014)

Christina Nellist, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Animal Suffering: Ancient Voices in Modern Theology (Cambridge Scholars 2018)

Bethany Sollereder, God, Evolution and Animal Suffering: Theodicy without a Fall (Routledge, 2019)

Christopher Southgate, The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Eugene, OR: Westminster John Knox, 2008).

Ken Stone, Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Lynn White, 'The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis', Science, 155, 10 March 1967: 1203-1207.

Donna Yarri, The Ethics of Animal Experimentation: A critical analysis and constructive Christian proposal (OUP, 2005)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will contribute to the development of graduate attributes including, but not limited to:
- Critical and reflective thinking, including through the application of texts and theories to novel and complex problems
- Communication skills, including through producing a research poster
- Independent research and enquiry, including through the preparation of assessed work
KeywordsAnimals,biblical studies,theology,ethics,science & religion
Course organiserProf Rachel Muers
Course secretaryMr Patrick McMurray
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