ACM Pedagogic Resources > ACM SAIL > 2012 Seminar > Seminar Group > Vicki Bentley-Condit

Vicki Bentley-Condit

Professor of Anthropology
Grinnell College

As an anthropologist and a primatologist, many of my courses address some aspect of nonhuman animal behavior. All address humans as primates and the evolutionary history we share with other members of the primate order. My courses include: Mothers & Infants (examining the mother-infant relationship across the primate order), Primate Behavior, Human Evolution, Human Variation, Human Ethology, Biological Basis of Human Society, and a four-field Introduction to Anthropology. As well, this past fall I taught "Born to Run?" as a first-year tutorail where we examined whether humans were, indeed, born to run and looked at comparative anatomy of animal runners – specifically horses and cheetahs. As part of that course, we went to a nearby casino to watch quarter horses running. Most of my research as investigated various aspects of baboon behavior – mothers and infants, female relationships, etc. I am currently working on a baboon nutrition project (yellow baboons, Kenya) which I hope, ultimately, to be able to relate back to female reproductive output. I have done the nutritional analyses at the National Zoo in D.C. I have worked with baboons in Kenya and a captive population in Texas and have also conducted some research with captive rhesus macaques.

Given that I teach about human and nonhuman behavior, I think there are many obvious overlaps between the seminar and my classes – perhaps with my research as well though I'm not sure about that part. My goal is to design a course module that I could incorporate into various courses – both at the senior level and the intro level – that might help students to see how broad the connections are between humans and other animals. Since most of my teaching approaches the relationship from a biological perspective, I'm hoping this seminar can provide me with tools for thinking more about the cultural side. I also plan to apply for the Grinnell-in-Washington program for the fall of 2014 and a course I envision teaching there would come directly out of this seminar. The title (in my head) for that course is: People Eating Tasty Animals vs. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Humans, Animals, and the Policies that Govern Them.