‘To kill or not to kill, that is the question’

‘To kill or not to kill, that is the question’

September 6, 2019

Imagine you are an animal, living in a world that is dominated by humans. Humans control how you live, whether you have access to food, whether you can continue living or simply become meat for humans to eat. If you are the family pet, you are taken care of as if you are a child of that family. If you are a piglet that will eventually be sent to a slaughterhouse, however, you have no idea as to what you are in for once you grow up. If you are a calf, you have no idea whether you will be sent to a slaughterhouse or a dairy farm. Rather than being able to determine where you go, your fate is in the hands of humans.

In “Introduction to Animal Science and Nutrition,” Professor Melissa Kosinski-Collins (BIOL) plans to examine the varying ways in which animals are mistreated in our communities. This class will use the treatment of animals as a lens to critique society and the way we, as humans, view animals. The class will tackle both scientific and societal issues in the animal industry in order to provide students with a thorough understanding of the treatment of animals and allow students to think about ways to educate other people in order to decrease the misuse of animals. 

Professor Kosinski-Collins has always had an affinity for agriculture. She grew up on a farm in Western Massachusetts and has therefore seen firsthand how animals are used and misused in the farming industry. In her class, she desires to examine how animals are used as a means of food, but also as a means of making food. For example, cows are needed in order to make milk, cheese or any other type of dairy product, but they are also killed to make beef. This forces individuals to think about the cost of killing animals and using them as meat. Are we willing to sacrifice animals just for our own meat supply? Does killing these animals mean that we have less animals to use as a means of making food? At the rate we are going, will we eventually overuse and kill all the animals on Earth?

On the topic of nutrition, Professor Kosinski-Collins plans to highlight the digestive systems of animals and what goes into their nutrition. In addition, students will dive into how the market determines the most price-efficient quantity of food for animals. The food that an animal eats determines how it can be used in the animal industry, therefore nutrition is quite important.

Professor Kosinski-Collins believes that the hardest part of this class will be navigating through the ever changing animal industry. In this industry there are many controversial topics. As a result, remaining respectful while respecting other students’ opinions will be challenging. However, through this challenge, students will gain a strong understanding of the animal industry. 

The class is taught using lectures, case studies, primary literature and facilitated discussions. There will be a forum online and students will also have presentations. The class is meant to be interactive and allow students to collaborate with each other. 

Lastly, Professor Kosinski-Collins hopes that by the end of this class, students will have a more concrete understanding of the interactions between humans and animals and how these interactions allow our society to function. She explains, “I am hoping as we discuss the animal industries throughout the world, students will emerge with a new appreciation of how important animals are and how important it is for us to consider their welfare status in our new and evolving climate.”

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