ASS203 - Being Human (With the Nonhuman)

Year: 2019 unit information
Enrolment modes: Trimester 1: Burwood (Melbourne), Waurn Ponds (Geelong), Cloud (online)
Credit point(s): 1
EFTSL value: 0.125
Unit chair:

Gillian Tan





Incompatible with:


Contact hours:

Campus: 1 x 1-hour class per week, 1 x 1-hour seminar per week.

Cloud (online): 1 x 1-hour class per week (recordings provided), 1-hour online seminar per week.


This unit introduces students to the various ways that “being human” is understood and experienced among different groups of people, particularly in their classifications of, and relationships with, nonhumans, such as animals and deities. A framework of what it means to be human often presupposes a certain definition of consciousness. For the most part, this is predicated on the subjective “I” and a corollary understanding of the individual. But is this framework universal? How do people in non-modern societies, for example, convey what it means to be human? This unit explores the multiple ways of “being human” and suggests that one articulation reveals itself through relationships with nonhumans. By examining how nonhumans are included into society – through kinship structures, for example – and the implications on notions of personhood and consciousness, this unit opens up the possibilities of what it means to be human while simultaneously clarifying its scope.


Seminar exercises 25%

Journal 35%

Essay 40%

Unit Fee Information

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