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Animal Studies Journal

Abstract

This article explores how concern about animal welfare and animal rights relates to ecological citizenship by discussing student assignments written about the Dutch Party for Animals or PvdD. ‘Animal welfare’, ‘animal rights’, and ‘ecological citizenship’ perspectives offer insights into strategic choices of eco-representatives and animal rights/welfare advocates as well as educators. The assignments balance animal issues with socio-economic ones, explore the relationship between sustainability and ethics, and attribute responsibility for unsustainable or unethical practices. Analysis of student assignments reveals nuanced positions on the anthropocentrism-ecocentrism continuum, showing students’ ability to critically rethink their place within larger environmental systems. Some students demonstrated compassion for nonhumans, indicating that biophilia is evenly distributed among different groups of students. This article finds that fostering pro-environmentalism and animal welfare or rights requires the deepening of the debate contesting but also connecting key issues in sustainability and ethics. This analysis can be valuable for political parties representing nonhumans, or for education practitioners in getting students to think about the challenges in human-environment relationships and for advancing support for ecodemocracy.

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