ABI Faculty Development Program Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter
Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter

Diversity and Inclusion in Animal Behavior

Class information

Psych 160 – Evolution and Behavior

50 students

In this course, students will learn about the study of behavior from an evolutionary perspective. We will look at the mechanisms underlying behavior and how behavior develops in an animal’s lifetime, as well as the fitness benefits of behavior and how behavior evolves across species. We will look at a variety of behavior topics, from reproductive and mating behavior to cognition and communication. Animal behavior is a fascinating field that draws from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, and students will learn about how these and other fields have impacted our understanding of behavior. In addition to lectures, we may also have in-class discussions about a variety of topics.

Project overview

This is a critical thinking exercise meaning that students will need to critically evaluate peer-reviewed resources addressing diversity and inclusion in animal behavior. You must use the papers I’ve provided, as well as a minimum of two additional sources. These sources, what you have learned in class, as well as your personal experience, should help you to formulate your own ideas and opinions. As per the title of this assignment, I am particularly interested in your thoughts and critical evaluation of these topics. This is a written assignment, where you are asked to use words (max of 400) to clarify your thoughts. However, how you display these words is up to you. 

Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?

Previously, I had a short thought assignment that focused on foundational material in animal behavior. I opted to revise this project to focus on diversity and inclusion in an attempt to highlight adversity that minorities have faced in the field, and the systemic barriers of entry that have been in place. Given that CUNY Hunter College is extremely diverse, with approximately 73% of students representing minorities of people of color (BIPOC), and the fact that Hunter College is designated as both a Hispanic and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander serving institution, I find it of the utmost importance to bring up this history in my class. I believe that drawing upon this history, and involving students in critically thinking about this material, draws upon student identity and purpose, and encourages and promotes change within the classroom and beyond.

What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?

When I piloted this assignment in Spring 2021 I was absolutely shocked by the submissions. They were fantastic, beautiful, thought-provoking, and often times I felt like I could feel the mic drop. They were powerful. While I required students to write a 400 word critical evaluation, my experience last semester has changed my thoughts on how this assignment could be more creative. For the first time I am trying to allow students more flexibility in their written work. I am now accepting 400 words of any kind, in the form of a poem, rap, screen-play, novella, journal entry, and more. I’m excited to see the results!

Related materials

Assignment Instructions (.docx)
This document includes resources students were required to read, links for how to find resources, and a grading rubric.

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