Animal sciences course earns national distinction from humane society


SALEM, Ohio – Ohio State University animal sciences professor David Zartman was participating in a mock debate on animal rights for an annual parents’ day when he learned what a significant role the topic played in education.

Just moments before, department chair James Kinder had shuffled through his Saturday mail and noticed an envelope from the Humane Society of the United States. It immediately grabbed his attention.

Kinder then shared the good news the envelope delivered with everyone attending the debate: Zartman, along with three other instructors, would be recognized by the society for a course they taught focusing on animal welfare issues.

The award was presented Monday on campus by representatives of the society to Zartman, Glen Schmidt, J. Fred Stephens and Stephen Boyles.

Senior class. Instructors Schmidt and Stephens pioneered the course beginning in 1991. Zartman currently leads the class, and Boyles will begin teaching the course for the spring quarter, according to Zartman.

The class, Animal Sciences 597: Social Issues Concerning the Use of Animals By Humans, is a senior contemporary issues course.

“It’s our last shot at the students to urge them to be discerning about the issues,” Zartman said.

“It turned out to be very popular,” and now roughly 60 percent of students enrolled are from outside the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Everyone seems to be fascinated with the topics we cover,” he said.

Those topics include human and animal comparison, animal experimentation, and animals in the entertainment industry, among others.

The course also utilizes in-class debates, videos and position papers to explore the topics.

Bridging gaps. The course, offered every quarter, is intended to serve as a bridge between those who don’t know about the typical animal welfare and rights issues and “those who think they know it all about it all,” according to Zartman.

There are currently 54 students enrolled in two sections of the course, and there is a waiting list of nearly 50 students.

The class, described by Zartman as fun to teach and highly interactive, also features a variety of speakers who are experts in their industries.

Students have the chance to learn about trapping technology, rodeo and equine therapy.

“We cover everything from the lab animal to the food animal,” Zartman said.

“Again, the key is that this class is not intended to tell [the students] what to think. We get them to explore, check sources and understand all the motives before making decisions.”

Award history. Each year since 1999, the humane society has recognized two collegiate courses with a $1,500 award.

One award is presented to an existing course, and the other is designated for a course scheduled for instruction.

“The award helps raise the profile of the study of animals in all different contexts, from animal rights, to animal welfare and animal ethics,” said Lesley King, director of education and animal welfare of the Humane Society of the United States in Washington.

For more information on the humane society course awards, log on to

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!