CQU is preparing next generation law graduates in animal law skills

23 September 2021

How many animals have you observed or had contact with today? Did you know that each one of them is impacted by our laws?

Some are our beloved pets' and millions of animals are raised for food production each year. Even those who live in pristine wilderness rely on the effectiveness of human-made laws for their survival.

The introduction of 'Animal Law' (LAWS11067)' a new undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) unit' will strengthen CQUniversity's profile in this important law and policy domain.

Animal Law is a fully online elective unit that will be offered for the first time in Term 3 2021 (November 2021 – February 2022).

Legal academic' animal protection researcher and unit coordinator' Dr Alexandra McEwan said the unit will provide students with the skills required to make valuable contributions to improving legal protections for animals.

"As a university whose home is regional Queensland' and with several campuses close to food production regions and internationally recognised wilderness areas' it is wonderful to see Animal Law on the CQU map'" she said.

"The content supports the development of critical thinking and research skills through practical engagement with contemporary policy and law reform debates."

While working on the unit Dr McEwan checked in with her colleagues Professor Stephen Colbran' Dr Amanda Jane George' and Dr Nichola Corbett-Jarvis about their perspective on the importance of offering Animal Law in the CQU LLB curriculum (for more' see the CQUniLife Blog Introducing the new Animal Law unit).

Dr Amanda Jane George explained that from the age of three she has had the privilege of owning a 'rag-tag' bunch of animals.

'While animals are literally our companions on this planet' they are not always shown the care and respect they deserve."

Dr George' an intellectual property expert' highlighted that practices such as the patenting of genetically tailored animals and the use of animals in research are subjects of heated debate.

"The Animal Law unit allows students to reflect and develop a reasoned analysis of such issues' and to articulate balanced and cogent arguments related to the current state of law and areas for reform'" she said.

Dr Nichola Corbet-Jarvis' whose expertise is legal education' said that studying animal law will provide opportunities to explore primary legal sources' as students will need to become familiar with a range of statutes that govern this area.

"The unit provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice and enhance their statutory interpretation skills. It will also introduce students to a range of the regulatory instruments' such as Codes of Practice'" she said.

"This unit will encourage students to be more than a 'black letter lawyer' (where students focus only on the interpretation and application of the law to a client's problem) and inspire them to consider the impact the application of the law has on animals' the environment' individuals and the community and how change can and should be affected."

According to Dean of Law' Criminology and Justice' Professor Stephen Colbran animals are newsworthy.

"They can be prized athletes such as Olympic dressage and racehorses' they can be crime fighters such as drug and detection dogs' they can also be notorious such as dive-bombing magpies' tsetse flies' and raging bull sharks.

"Each species conjures up its own persona' rituals' and deadliness. The legal and moral status of animals raises many questions and debates. How we interact with animals and with the natural environment is a vast area of research' regulation' and diverse opinions."

Professor Colbran also said the CQU College of Law Criminology and Justice is proud to offer animal law and to continue its engagement with Education for Nature Vietnam' whose mission is to protect endangered species' and all wildlife' from harm and exploitation.

While state and territory anti-cruelty laws are an important part of animal law' Dr McEwan noted that they do not define the field.

"Questions related to what we owe to other animals can arise in a variety of legal regimes and policy domains' such as Australian Consumer Law. We just need to look closely enough. Nonhuman animals' and thus animal law' is everywhere!" she explained.

"I look forward to welcoming students to Animal Law in Term 3."

To find out more about the unit' contact Dr Alexandra McEwan