Animal Law

A goal of the Animal Law & Policy Program is to provide students with the opportunity to take multiple Animal Law-related courses and reading group’s during their three years at the Harvard Law School or other schools.

Each spring, Professor Kristen Stilt teaches the primary Animal Law course, which includes attention to comparative and international law as well as religious and cultural issues. The course introduces students to the broad range of laws that affect non-human animals (“animals”), including companion animals, farm animals (with a particular focus on factory farms), animals used in the context of entertainment (such as zoos and aquaria), animals used in scientific experimentation, and wild animals. The course focuses mainly on the U.S. but will also include significant attention to the laws of other countries and to international law. The course was taught by Visiting Professor Justin Marceau in the Spring of 2019 while Professor Stilt was serving as Deputy Dean of Harvard Law School.

The course also engages with fundamental questions about animals and the law, such as: Are some animals more deserving of protection than others, and if so, on what basis? What role does culture and belief play in animal law—why are dogs considered pets in the U.S. and food in some parts of the world, for example? Does the status of animals as property pose an insurmountable barrier to increasing protections for animals? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the concepts of “animal rights” and “animal welfare”?

In the spring of 2017 the Animal Law course expanded to 3 credits.

Animal Law – HLS Course Catalog

Wildlife Law

The Wildlife Law Seminar will be taught by Eric Glitzenstein in 2021. Mr. Glitzenstein is presently the Director of Litigation at the Center for Biological Diversity, a national conservation organization dedicated to preventing human-caused extinctions and protecting life on Earth. Prior to working with the Center, Mr. Glitzenstein was the co-founder (with Professor Katherine Meyer) and Managing Partner of the D.C. based firm Meyer & Glitzenstein, one of the nation’s leading public-interest law firms.

The course was previously taught by Jonathan Lovvorn. Mr. Lovvorn taught Wildlife Law at HLS in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and also taught a new Farmed Animal Law & Policy course in 2017. He also teaches Animal Law at Yale, NYU and Georgetown Law Schools.

Course Description:

This seminar will explore wildlife law and policy, with a focus on high-profile wildlife conservation disputes, including current controversies surrounding international whaling, captive marine mammals, endangered wolves, and dwindling polar bear populations. The seminar will examine the history and evolution of wildlife conservation law, and highlight the major constitutional, ecological, political, and economic issues that shape wildlife resource protection in the 21st century. The seminar will include an overview of key domestic and international laws protecting wildlife, including the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling. The seminar will also touch on the World Trade Organization and the role of international free trade agreements in both fostering and inhibiting global wildlife conservation.

Wildlife Law – HLS Course Catalog

Farmed Animal Law & Policy

In the fall of 2017 Harvard Law School offered a course on Farmed Animal Law & Policy taught by Jonathan Lovvorn, Senior Vice President & Chief Counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at The Humane Society of the United States. Mr. Lovvorn has taught Harvard Law School’s Wildlife Law course, and also teaches Animal Law at Yale, NYU and Georgetown Law School.

Course Description:

This seminar will explore farmed animal law and policy, with a focus on high-profile issues concerning the use of animals for food, including current controversies over animal welfare, environmental degradation, public health, consumer protection, worker safety, and climate change. The seminar will examine the history and evolution of animal agriculture from early agrarian domestication to modern industrial farming, and highlight the major ethical, cultural, ecological, social and economic issues that shape farmed animal law and policy in the 21st century. The seminar will include an overview of key laws and regulations concerning farmed animals, as well as an exploration of current legislation, litigation, ballot initiatives and consumer-based campaigns to reform animal agriculture. The seminar will also compare farmed animal laws and regulations in different countries, and touch on the role of international trade agreements in both promoting and preventing legal protections for farmed animals.

Farmed Animal Law & Policy – HLS Course Catalog

Reading Groups

Animals and Covid-19

1L Reading Group, Fall 2020 Professor Kristen Stilt

Human encroachment on animal habitats, and human use of animals in general, has created the ideal conditions for the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.  The world focused on the live animal market in Wuhan, China as the suspected site of the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, but this is certainly not the only site of concern.  A strategy of prevention must take into consideration all human interactions with both wildlife and domesticated animals. This Reading Group explored the origins of major zoonotic diseases, with specific attention to COVID-19.  It also examined efforts by governments to regulate the human-animal interactions that are viewed as the most dangerous, including the trade in wildlife.  Can we prevent the next pandemic through a rethinking of our relationships to animals? This Reading Group aimed to answer this major question.


Disruptive Food Technologies: Law, Politics, and Policy

2L & 3L Reading Group, Fall 2020 Nicole Negowetti

Feeding a growing population within planetary limits is a key question of our time. This reading group explored and assessed the merits and risks of technological solutions to food insecurity and climate change. We discussed and debated the key socioeconomic, political, and regulatory issues related to novel food technologies, such as gene-editing, plant-based meat, dairy, and eggs, and cellular agriculture – the emerging science of producing animal products from cells instead of from live animals. The emergence of these technologies can be highly disruptive not only to the agricultural industry and livelihoods of those stakeholders, but to consumers and their sociocultural interactions with the products. We examined the roles of policymakers, businesses, and the public in deploying disruptive food technologies in a way that advances sustainability, health, and equity. The students engaged in robust discussions of timely, controversial, and important topics such as the future of food, sustainability, the ethics of bioengineering crops and animals, and the challenges and opportunities of cell-based meat.