Why Eckerd?

So many choices!

Eckerd College is in a perfect location to study animals.

There are so many animal facilities in and around Tampa Bay who welcome Eckerd College student volunteers.


Eckerd College is in undergraduate only institution — so all of the opportunities go to you!

Our students attend and present at the International Conference for Comparative Cognition every year! This is an opportunity to showcase our students' hard work, and network with professionals in the field.

You don't even have to leave campus to get involved with animal research. We have a dog cognition lab right on campus.

Eckerd students presenting their research at the International Conference for Comparative Cognition.

Relevant Coursework offered in the Psychology Department at Eckerd College

  • Animal Cognition (PS 212)
  • Internship in Psychology (PS 344)
  • Advanced Research in Comparative Psychology (PS 428)
  • The Role of the Modern Zoo (BE 320E)
  • Human-Animal Studies (WT)
  • Independent Study in Animal Research


In recent years, zoos and aquariums have been subjected to much criticism. However, many people believe that zoos play a vital role in education and conservation. Prof. Highfill offers a course which examines the role of the modern zoo in these efforts. During the spring semester, students examine local zoo facilities around Tampa Bay. This includes a two-day intensive program at Busch Gardens Tampa where students meet with zoo staff, researchers, and conservationists. Students even work for a morning as a zookeeper! The course culminates with a travel component outside of Tampa Bay. In 2017, we traveled to London and Edinburgh. In 2019, we traveled to the Pacific Northwest. The ultimate goal of this course is to come away with a better understanding of the role of the modern zoo.


Examine human-animal relationships and learn quantitative, critical thinking, communication and research skills along the way.

The Animal Studies program, created by our very own Dr. Lauren Highfill, is a truly interdisciplinary major at Eckerd, drawing from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities to trace the history and consequences of human relationships to animals. These relationships are interdependent; while humans have certainly had a tremendous impact upon the lives of non-human animals, non-human animals have also shaped human thought, culture, and economic production—even our very understanding of what humanity is—since our earliest origins.

There are a plethora of Animal Studies classes at Eckerd — here are examples of classes that we offer.

  • Animal Behavior (AZ 375)
  • Animal Learning & Behavior Modification (AZ 331)
  • Marine Mammal Science (AZ 212)
  • Animals and Performance (TH 280A)
  • Human-Animal Communication (CM 328)
  • Knowing the Animal Through Literature (LI 231H)
  • Animal Assisted Interventions (AZ 231)
  • Animal in Ancient Science (AS 206E)
  • The Voice of the Animal (LI 231H)

Eckerd student feeding a giraffe at Busch Gardens as part of Human-Animal Studies

Human-Animal Studies at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Photo Credit: Erik Rohrkaste '16

zoo class pic

Role of the Modern Zoo Class at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, Spring 2017

photo of group

Role of the Modern Zoo Class at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Washington State, Spring 2019

Get competitive

Skills you acquire at Eckerd will give you a competitive edge for graduate school or a career in a field that works toward better understanding or benefiting animals including quantitative, critical thinking, communication and research.

Train animals for research

Study “canine creativity” and similar animal training routines using grants secured by Eckerd College Psychology & Animal Studies faculty here in Florida.