A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Design for Nonhuman Kinds: Elephants


Sculpture 4931 001 / AIADO 4931 001

Faculty: Sara Black (Sculpture) and Pete Zerillo (AIADO)

Are you concerned about the welfare of nonhuman beings?
Do you want to participate in habitat improvement for elephants in captivity?
Do you believe that plants, animals and other nonhuman species are equal to humans?
Can artists and designers help to forge new relationships with nonhuman kinds?
Would you like to visit an Elephant Sanctuary during spring semester?
Are you curious about nonanthropocentric design?

Design for Nonhuman Kinds is a course series that asks students to think “outside the human,” by decentering human perception and subjectivity in favor of animal thinking. Design for Nonhuman Kinds: Toys for Elephants challenges students to design and build cognitive tools – “toys” — that enrich the lives of elephants in captivity by engaging their behaviors, cognitive thought processes and perceptions. As we begin to recognize the limitations of anthropocentric making this interdisciplinary course encourages design inclusivity and speculative thinking. Students will work with scientists, sanctuary staff, as well as contemporary theorists to study elephant subjectivity; travel to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, the home of African and Asian elephant herds; and design and build functional tools for these elephants' enrichment.