Have you ever wondered how caretakers enrich the lives of lizards in zoos? Or how improving sow welfare benefits the lives of growing piglets? Or what play can tell us about a puppy’s well-being?
In the spring semester one-credit course Animal Welfare Science Journal Club (ANSC 3900), students explore diverse animal welfare topics and current research through weekly discussions of scientific literature. Students take turns selecting an article of their interest and leading class discussion to dive into its methods and conclusions. The course, taught by Lecturer Lindsay Goodale, develops skills in analyzing complex readings; by the end of each class, students have gained a greater understanding of diverse animal welfare issues.
“It’s my favorite course to teach,” Goodale said. “It’s amazing to see students get engaged with the journal club and the topics of their choosing.”
The open-ended nature of the course allows students to find studies they are passionate about, she said, while ensuring students hit the key themes of the research and enhance their understanding of the literature. The benefits of being able to read and communicate scientific literature extend beyond the students’ academic careers.
For Goodale, the most rewarding part of teaching the course is hearing what students have to say.
“My favorite aspect of this course was how it was open-ended and everyone felt comfortable speaking,” said animal science undergraduate Isabel Stanley ’24. “Through our discussions, I gained valuable insights into various animals’ welfare and behaviors, and I also learned how to analyze scientific literature critically.”
“My favorite aspect of this course was how it was open-ended and everyone felt comfortable speaking.”
“Dr. Goodale creates an environment supportive of both compassion, scientific inquiry, and varying points of view,” said graduate student Roman Libov, who is pursuing a master’s degree in food science. “Her extensive animal welfare knowledge and experience as a veterinarian was particularly helpful in understanding complex issues in this subject area.”
Goodale noted that this experience is not only relevant for students’ academic careers. Whatever career path a student is pursuing, whether in animal science or beyond, she said, there is great value in being able to read and communicate scientific literature.
She also pointed out that, in recent years, research has expanded to a wide variety of species—from small pocket rodents and reptiles to large farm livestock and exotics. With so much literature to explore, the course offers flexibility in guiding student curiosity.
“This animal welfare course is foundational for creating scholars who may or may not be tuned into the sentience of non-human animals among us,” added Libov. “Any class that creates space for further understanding of animal welfare, animal rights and speciesism should be required in universities.”
Tyler Collinson ’25 is an animal science major and student writer for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.
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