A fish crow visits a 'First-Year Writing' class. Photo by Joseph V. Labolito.

Things got wild in Assistant Professor Dan Featherston’s First-Year Writing course this week, when two wildlife ambassadors from the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic made guest appearances. Michelle Wellard, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and the clinic’s assistant director, brought an Eastern screech-owl and a fish crow to Featherston’s class.

The theme of that course is human-animal relations. In it, students discuss, debate, read and write about animal ethics, the moral relevance of nonhuman animal capacities and the social construction of nonhuman animals.

“Having nonhuman animals in the classroom gives us the opportunity to see that the ideas and arguments we’re discussing have very real consequences,” he explained. “They give a face and a presence to how we consider each of them, which in turn makes students feel more accountable as critical readers, writers and thinkers.”

Kim Fischer

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