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FREE’s Furry, Feathery Week

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Cover of Book Not So Different By Nathan Lents

TMCC students, staff and the community are invited to hear author Nathan Lents, PhD, on March 27. TMCC GRC students are designing and screen printing (HUM)Animal T-shirts for the event.

According to the modern biological classification system, humans are included in the animal kingdom.

And yet, throughout time humans talk about animals as though the differences between "them" and "us" are so extreme that when a person says "animal," they do not necessarily mean the human animal. That brings up many further questions.

What is the ratio comparing the number of animals that humans have eaten to how many humans have been eaten by other animals? Professor Blisin Hestiyas’ students are crunching numbers on that topic. How have humans drawn animals for artistic expression from pre-historic times until the present day? Professor Corina Weidinger’s students will present the results of their art history research projects.

At Truckee Meadows Community College, FREE "(Hum)Animals" will engage students to express their thoughts, words and art about the similarities and differences between humans and other animals.

Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment (FREE) (Hum)Animals Event

On Tuesday, March 27, in the V. James Eardley Student Services Center:

  • SPCA of Northern Nevada Pet-a-Rescue and Great Basin Herpetological Society petting zoo: 8:30–9:30 a.m.
  • Student presentations: 9:30–10:45 a.m.
  • Guest Speaker, Nathan Lents: 11 a.m.–Noon, open to the community

FREE is an acronym of the Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment, a group of professors who have formed an interdisciplinary learning community. Each year they choose a unique central theme, sometimes controversial. Students from classes across campus explore the theme, expressing their opinions and sharing findings.

During February and March, students in many disciplines are conducting research and beginning projects. In late March, their studies culminate in a finale: the annual FREE event.

All TMCC students, faculty and staff are invited to any part of the event, or are welcome for the entire morning. Nathan Lents’ special guest presentation is also free and open to the public.

Nathan Lents, Author and Podcaster

Guest speaker Nathan Lents, PhD, is a professor of biology at the John Jay College in New York City. He wrote the book "Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals," praised by editorial and reader reviews as being intriguing, informative, and scientifically-based without overuse of scientific jargon.

Dr. Lents also writes the The Human Evolution Blog, is a contributor for Psychology Today, and hosts the podcast, "This World of Humans".

Additional Student Presentations

In addition to the student projects listed above, other classes participating in this year’s theme study include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Sociology Instructor Marynia Giren-Navarro’s classes will critically examine the differences between human and animal sexuality.
  • Veterinary Technology Professor Kellie Carter’s students will create projects that compare the ways humans help animals, with how animals help humans.
  • Graphic Communications Professor Ron Marston's commercial printing processes class designed, and are screen printing (HUM)Animal T-shirts.
  • Anthropology Instructor Joylin Namie’s classes are compiling “Ten facts about human and animal research.”
  • Political Science Professor Precious Hall’s students will create an animal Bill of Rights.
  • Education Professor Micaela Rubalcava’s classes are building a storyboarding activity for all of the classes to explore together when they gather in the Student Center on March 27.
  • Fine arts students of Candace Garlock and Aimee Kelly will create characters to use in the large group activity.
  • Professor Nancy O’Neals’ marketing classes will conduct market research on the event activities and promote attendance at the presentations.

A Brief History of FREE

FREE events have taken place annually or semi-annually at TMCC since 2003.

The FREE learning community began as an innovative idea of Professor Rubalcava when she was inspired to join with colleagues of other disciplines to gather students in studying a thematic topic. A committee of faculty members meet monthly to plan and organize the theme study and its finale event.

The interdisciplinary FREE has explored numerous themes so far in its 15 years, including water, fear, censorship, diversity, vision, and ‘nature versus nurture’. The culminating large group FREE events continue to be well-supported and well-attended.

Sponsors and Community Contributors

The FREE faculty members also extend their appreciation to presenters, departmental and corporate supporters and contributors, including the following:

  • Nathan Lents
  • Sierra Safari Zoo
  • SPCA of Northern Nevada Pet-a-Rescue
  • Great Basin Herpetological Society
  • Furries Community
  • Professor Sue Turbow, for bringing her service animal to the petting zoo
  • PAWS 4 Love

For more information about FREE (Hum)Animals, please contact Nancy O’Neal at 775-636-3760.