Sapient Species

May Term 2016

Transylvania University Info Session: 

Thursday October 8 at 4:30

Haupt 203

Transylvania University Info Session: 

Thursday October 8 at 4:30

Haupt 203

This is a video about our last May Term, 2015, which was similar to Sapient Species but different in scope. During Ape Sapiens we worked only with apes. During Sapient Species we will be working with a broader range of animals. 

Sapient Species: What they Know, Why we Owe.

Nonhuman minds are shaped for the wild, yet many are captive – this disconnect generates important questions: Can we ensure that such complex minds are suitably engaged and challenged in captive environments? Do we have an ethical duty to ensure that they are? And, if so, does this duty extend to all species, not just those that look like us (primates) or captivate us (elephants, seals, bears), but those that bore, scare, or annoy us (insects, bats, snakes)? We will spend two weeks at the Louisville Zoo designing cognitively appropriate enrichment for primates, other large gregarious species, and nongregarious species. We will conduct research to explore two questions: Would treating these animals to cognitive challenges allow them to lead more species-typical lives in captivity? And might such enrichments be a way to treat these wild minds more ethically? This course is especially recommended for psychology, biology, pre-vet, and philosophy majors. 


This course will be taught at two campuses: Illinois Wesleyan University (Ellen Furlong, psychology,, 309-556-3415) and Transylvania University (Jack Furlong, philosophy,, 859-233-8160). 

Course Information.

Please read all the information here before you submit your application.

Cost: The course cost is $1690.24. Transportation, housing, several meals, and required course materials are covered in this cost. You will also be responsible for other meals; you will have access to a kitchen (and we will take you to a grocery store), we will be within walking distance of restaurants, and you may purchase meals through the universities. 


Comfortable close toed shoes are mandatory for students enrolled in the course, and these costs do not reflect that. You will be spending time outside so may want to bring a water bottle, poncho, hat, and sunscreen with you.


Prerequisites: Permission of instructor is all that’s required. You must be in good physical condition and able to tolerate being outside (possibly standing) in varying weather conditions for long periods of time. You must also be comfortable around animals and willing to get dirty. All students are required to obtain and show proof of a negative TB test before going to the zoo. If you have a false positive skin TB test you must obtain a chest x-ray and have a note from your doctor that you do not have TB. 


Before the start of the course you will be required to participate in 2-3 mandatory group discussions which may require readings and preparation in advance. You may also be asked to complete a take-home exam. These meetings are mandatory, will be scheduled by the end of the fall semester, and will take place during the spring semester. 


Selection Process: Students from all majors will be considered and up to 12 students can enroll in the course per institution. The selection criteria include your career interests, academic performance (i.e., GPA, etc.) and the reasons you wish to enroll in the course. You must fill out this online application by the deadline (October 17 at 5:00 PM). You are encouraged to submit the application as soon as possible. Both the Drs. Furlong (Ellen and Jack) as well as the zoo will have input into the selection process. All students will be notified by e-mail as to whether they will participate in the course. 


Tentative Travel Dates: We plan to leave for the Louisville Zoo on May 9 and return 2 weeks later on the 24th. 


Accommodations: We will all be staying at the University of Louisville where you will have wireless internet and access to kitchens available (though there is not kitchen equipment so you may want to coordinate with your roommate to bring some necesseties).


Research Sites Visited: Our primary stie will be the Louisville Zoo ( though we may make some day trips to other sites (perhaps the Cincinnati Zoo etc).


Further questions? Email one of the Drs. Furlong -- or 

Selfie Schticks.

Meet your professors and your classmates! 



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