Service Learning with Animals: A New Opportunity for UNLV students

Apr. 23, 2020

Just a 15-minute car ride away from UNLV, you can find over two acres of compassion in South East Las Vegas. In 2019, Las Vegas resident and UNLV sustainability coordinator Tara Pike established All Friends Animal Sanctuary, a 501c non-profit that provides sanctuary to vulnerable animals in the Las Vegas community. All Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to roosters, hens, ducks, goats, pigs, cows, and even turtles. For the most part, these animals were either abandoned or confiscated by animal control—they were left without homes, until Pike opened her door to them, offering food, shelter, comfort, and friendship.

Students have the unique opportunity to join Pike in her efforts during their learning experience at UNLV. In Fall of 2020, the UNLV philosophy department will offer its first service-learning course: Animal Ethics and the Law (PHIL 352), taught by Professor C.E. Abbate. This course will combine community engagement (at Pike's sanctuary) with critical discussion of and reflection on the human-animal connection.

Abbate and Pike are both firm believers in service-learning, as it provides students with the rare opportunity to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the world outside of campus. When it comes to Abbate’s service-learning course, students will make meaningful connections between what they learn in philosophy class and the animals Pike has rescued.

Pike herself is a graduate of UNLV, and she has never forgotten the words of late professor and biologist James Deacon: “education is not something you get, it’s something you do.” And, as Pike puts it, “service learning is doing.”

For more information about the Animal Ethics and the Law service-learning course, contact Professor Abbate at ce.abbate@unlv.edu. Prerequisites for this course can be waived at the instructor’s discretion.

Course description:

In PHIL 352: Animals Ethics and the Law, students will think critically about the human-animal connection. Together, we will pursue meaningful investigations into what morality demands when it comes to human-animal interactions, and we will consider what legal systems must do to promote flourishing human-animal communities. This service-learning course will afford students with the rare opportunity to directly interact with living animals—to touch, smell, and listen to them—and to reflect deeply upon the moral and legal significance of these interactions.