No, the University of Iowa isn’t admitting dogs (though I would much rather room with a dog than some random human). I’m referring to a new course at the University, taught by Mary Trachsel (who I met through the Iowa Humane Alliance). The course is called Dogs Inside and Out, and Mary was kind enough to send me the syllabus. Basically, the students will be reading, writing, and talking about dogs all semester! Who wouldn’t want to take that class? Kids these days have it made. The main text they’ll read for the course is Man Meets Dog, by Konrad Lorenz, which I haven’t read, and they’ll read parts of Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz, about which I have read (and I have been meaning, and meaning, to post a review–stay tuned). The most exciting part of the class is that they will do final projects pursuing a question of interest about dogs–anything from how dogs interact with each and with humans at the dog park, to how dogs are represented in adolescent literature, or the position of dogs in a certain community (these are all examples that Professor Trachsel provided). Hopefully I’ll get to hear about their completed projects, and I will pass on what I learn.
This class at Iowa isn’t a pioneer in dog-related college courses; dogs stormed the halls of our higher-learning institutions a few years ago (and there have been animal-related courses that included dogs at the University of Iowa). My friend Debra Pughe wrote an excellent article for Bark magazine called Studying the Dog, which explores collegiate courses, literature, and research that centers on dogs. The canine academics include the philosophical exploration of humans’ interactions with dogs, representations of dogs in art and literature, dogs and public policy, canine cognition, and much more. I highly recommend reading it, though it may make you wish you were a college kid once again.
Would you sign up for Dogs Inside and Out (or another dog-related college course)?