Engaged Scholarship: Lori Gruen

The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public life supports engaged scholarship on and off the Wesleyan campus. We define “Engaged Scholarship” as partnerships of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity, and public knowledge; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address and help solve critical social problems; and contribute to the public. A compendium of engaged scholarship and service by Wesleyan faculty may be found here.

4503133852_9f2496c8c8Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies. In February of 2015, she published her newest book, Entangled Empathy. 

In Entangled Empathy,scholar and activist Lori Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal rights, we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and unique perspectives.

In addition to Entangled Empathy, Professor Gruen has authored Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, The Ethics of Captivity, Ethics and Animals, Reflecting on NatureStem Cell Research: The Ethical IssuesSex, Morality, and the Law, and Animal Liberation: A Graphic Guide

Earlier this year, Professor Gruen published an article on Al Jazeera titled Ban Greyhound Racing Now, excerpted below: 

Facing these facts, racing supporters still insist that they cherish the greyhounds. “The people that own these dogs love these dogs,” said Jeff Kottkamp, a former Florida lieutenant governor turned lobbyist for the Florida Greyhound Association.

In one sense, perhaps, they do love the dogs, the way some people love their cars or love chocolate or love the beach. But this is a love without empathy, without the recognition that we are in relationships with these dogs and they look to us to care for them. They are gentle, sensitive individuals that have needs and interests, vulnerabilities and their own perspectives. Their lives can go better or worse, and their treatment in the racing industry is contrary to their well-being.

You can watch a discussion on empathy featuring Professor Gruen here.


Jennifer Roach is the Civic Engagement Fellow in Allbritton for the academic year 2015-2016. She is a recent Wesleyan alumni, class of 2014. Since graduating, she has moved to Hartford to continue developing Summer of Solutions Hartford, an urban farming internship program she worked on during her time at Wesleyan.