William & Mary

COLL 300: Steven Wise: President, Nonhuman Rights Project, Animal Rights Lawyer

Flyer for the Wise public event

Steven Wise is an animal rights lawyer currently serving as president of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), the only rights organization in the country working to achieve legal rights for members of species other than our own. He has filed lawsuits on behalf of captive chimpanzees and is the subject of the HBO/Pennebaker and Hegedus documentary, "Unlocking the Cage." The mission of NhRP:  to change the legal status of appropriate nonhuman animals from "things" to "persons" possessing such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and liberty. 

"Imagine that a hardy band of Neandertals tomorrow descends from the mountains of Spanish Andalusia or a tribe of Homo erectus emerges from the mists of Java, where they have lived isolated for three thousand generations. May we without hesitation capture and exhibit them, breed and eat them, and force them into biomedical research? If their minds make us hesitate and in that moment, if we open our minds to the possibility that they might be eligible for dignity-rights, shouldn't the minds of chimpanzees and bonobos make us hesitate as well?" —Steven Wise

Public Event

Unlocking the Cage: Animal Well-being, Personhood, and the Law [October 13, 2016; video]

Fall 2016 Theme: Well-being

The qualitative (and subjective) state of "well-being" gains increasing importance as we move beyond simple survival. Individuals with higher perceived levels of well-being report feeling healthy, socially engaged, and satisfied with their lives; societies structured to promote well-being are likelier to have a flourishing citizenry. What personal, social, community, physical, and environmental contexts best nurture not only the health of human beings, but of all creatures?