USS-SWC 2014 – Humans/Animals. A Contested Boundary

The 14th Vienna Summer University was held on July 7–18, 2014.


  • Richard Burkhardt (University of Illinois)
  • Susan Jones (University of Minnesota)
  • Georgina Montgomery (Michigan State University)

What are our cultural, ethical, biological, and historical relationships to the non-human animals that inhabit the planet with us? How have our perceptions of the similarities and differences between humans and animals changed over time, and what lies ahead? Claude Lévi-Strauss’s famous observation that “animals are good to think with“ becomes ever more potent when viewed in terms of the different ways that the human-animal boundary has been constructed in different socio-historical contexts.
This course engaged with historical, philosophical, political and sociological dimensions of human-animal interactions as well as the epistemology of the sciences used to study animals.


  • The human-animal boundary from Descartes to Darwin to the present
  • Anthropomorphism
  • The study of animal behavior
  • Animals in institutions (zoos and labs)
  • Wild animals, domestic animals, pets and vermin
  • Diseases crossing the human-animal boundary
  • Humans and other primates
  • Aggression, gender, sexuality, and parenting in animals and humans
  • Archaezoology
  • Teaching courses in human-animal interactions