Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Many humans believe they are separate from nature based on “unique” characteristics. For many centuries, our advanced tool use was believed to separate us from other animals. However, discoveries made by Jane Goodall in the 1960’s demonstrated that humans are not unique for this capacity.1 In light of these discoveries, the definition of human was altered to suggest that our intelligence sets us apart from other animals. This definition has been used in order to justify our exploitation of other animals by suggesting that we are unique, and therefore, superior due to this “unique” intelligence. However, humans are not alone in our capacity for complex thought. Other animals exhibit three major features of intelligence: language, episodic memory, and theory of mind. However, homocentric methodology has denied these animals the opportunity to demonstrate their intelligence by confining them to human-specific standards. Only through species-specific testing can we reveal the true intellectual capacities of other animals. Through the recognition of these commonalities, the distinction between “human” and “other animals” can be blurred, thus aiding in conservation efforts as humans recognize that we are not superior to animals and therefore are not more deserving of our Earth’s resources.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Misty Beck

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.