Opening a New Course: Companion Animals and Animal Rights

2019-10-07 Academic

Humanitas College has launched a new course, Companion Animals and Animal Rights, for the second semester of 2019.

Companion Animals and Animal Right is about how to raise companion animals and how to prevent and deal with their behavioral problems. Also, the course seeks ways to improve our understanding of the animals around us, establish healthy relationships with them, and coexist with other living creatures amid global crises, such as climate change and degradation of the ecosystem. It has opened under the “Learning Credits” system.

Kyung Hee embraces diversity in pedagogical practices, especially those that are different from the existing ones, to maximize the students' right to learn. One of these is the learning credits system, which was introduced in 2009. In this system, first, students survey liberal arts courses that their colleagues want to create and ask for their opening, and then the school opens the courses if they meet certain requirements. Below is a detailed interview with Professor Jongmu Park, who is teaching the course this semester.

How to live well together with various living creatures in the ecosystem, including companion animals
Q. Can you briefly describe your course, Companion Animals and Animal Rights?
There are some tips you need to know to keep your companion animals healthy and have healthy relationships with them. However, many people have adopted companion animals without fully understanding how to raise animals well and end up in trouble. Apart from pets, many kinds of animals living around us suffer due to humans. Looking at the lives of animals, we will consider how to perceive animals as living creatures as well as understand the various other life forms of the ecosystem. During this process, students recognize how they are just one form of life, and then we can come to understand how to view and share with the life around us.

The goal is to increase our awareness of life
Q. How does this lecture qualify as a liberal arts course at a university?
Students have been exposed to competition since birth. And they continue to live in a competition. I aim to allow them to think outside of their competitive environment and explore how to recognize their colleagues as living beings and associate with them.

The entire ecosystem is facing a crisis due to various reasons including climate change. This crisis has intensified as humans prioritize themselves over other life forms. And this issue will never be change, even if we survive this competition. Looking at life from an ecological perspective can help us to contemplate the kind of life we should live. Therefore, my goal is to widen our perception of life. In this respect, I think the course is in line with the educational goals of Humanitas College.

“The Ecosystem must survive, and then humans can survive.”
Q. What does it mean to have healthy relationships with animals as well as other life forms?
A healthy relationship built upon a proper foundation, working toward a healthier life through the mutual knowledge of each other. Knowledge can change perception. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest causes of climate change. The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed for the livestock industry. What sustains livestock on a global scale is our eating habits. We are eating too much meat without realizing it. In this way, the mitigation of global warming will be attainable when individuals reduce the excessive consumption of meat and live an ecologically sound lifestyle.

Q. What do you want from students taking this class?
I want them to gain a deeper understanding of companion animals, other animals, plants, all the life forms of the ecosystem as well as themselves as living beings. Humans cannot live alone. Only when the ecosystem is intact can humans survive. Therefore, I want them to get out of the frame of survival of the fittest and contemplate the kind of relationship they should have with their fellow species, which means life in all forms.

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