2009-04-02 / Local & State

Wilson College Forum To Explore "Why Animals Matter"


Dr. Paul Waldau, a leading scholar in the emerging field of human-animal studies, will deliver the keynote lecture during the 2009 Orr Forum on Religion - Why Animals Matter: Religion, Animals and Ethics - on April 20.

A day-long series of events is planned, culminating with the Orr Lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Wilson's Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology, when Waldau will present "The Animal Invitation: Religion, Law, Science and Ethics in a More-Than- Human World." The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

"This year's sessions look as informative and thought-provoking as any of the forums I've had the pleasure of organizing," said Dr. David True, chair of the Wilson College Department of Philosophy and Religion. "Dr. Waldau and the other Orr speakers are interested in exploring not only why animals matter, but also what difference our concern for animals makes for fields such as religion and science, ethics and law. What, if any, changes need to be made?"

True said the Orr Forum provides an opportunity to consider these questions with a leading scholar in the field of human-animals studies and two scholars whose work is dedicated to improving the treatment of animals through veterinary medicine and animal rescue.

Waldau, author and former director of Tufts University's Center for Animals and Public Policy, will discuss the challenges of human-animal studies, as well as how the growing concern for the welfare of animals might inform current thinking about religion and science, law and ethics

"One might say that I'm generally a synthesizer, trying to get some general sense across disciplines, cultures and time regarding what we have been doing, what we are now doing and what we might do in terms of living with and impacting other living beings," said Waldau, a consultant for many institutes and groups interested in animal protection issues.

In addition to the Orr Lecture, several presentations, which also are free and open to the public, will be held in the science complex auditorium throughout the day:

1 p.m. Q&A with Dr. Paul Waldau, 2009 Orr Scholar.

2 p.m. "Challenges in Human- Animal Studies" - Waldau.

3 p.m. "Snakes: The Human Obsession" - Wilson Adjunct Assistant Professor of English Diane Morgan, who has authored a number of books about animals.

4 p.m. "Descartes' Pernicious Legacy" - Dr. George Bates, veterinarian and Wilson assistant professor of veterinary medical technology.

Waldau has been teaching ethics courses at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine for 10 years and directed its Center for Animals and Public Policy from 2004 through 2008. He directed the center's Master of Science graduate program, which has become the world's leading program in human-animal studies.

In 2008, Waldau was named the Barker Lecturer in Animal Law at Harvard Law School, where he also taught in 2002 and 2006. He is the author of "The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals." He is co-editor of "A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics and The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity."

Waldau has a master's degree in religious studies from Stanford University, a juris doctor degree from UCLA Law School and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford.

The Orr Forum at Wilson College is supported by an endowed fund established by Thomas J. Orr, a friend of the college, in honor of his parents William and Mary Orr. This respected academic event is dedicated to the rigorous study of religion. As such, it provides Wilson College and the entire community an annual forum in which to discuss fascinating, profound - and sometimes provocative - aspects of religion.

To learn more, visit www.wilson.edu/orrforum or contact True at 717-264-4141, Ext. 3396, or dtrue@wilson.com.

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