Canisius Professor Receives Grant To Study Children's Hunting & Fishing Experiences

May 9, 2016

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Joshua Russell, PhD, assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology and conservation is the recipient of a 2016 Culture and Animal Foundation grant. The $2,000 grant will support his research project entitled “Children on the Hunt: A Multi-Method Study on Hunting and Fishing.”

More than 30 million people participate in hunting and/or fishing in the United States annually, contributing billions of dollars each year to wildlife conservation. A large number of children and teenagers under the age of 16 either directly participate or are present with parents, siblings or friends who engage in wildlife recreation. These experiences can be formative events in children’s learning experiences about non-human animals, nature and human-wildlife relationships.

Russell and his undergraduate research team are currently investigating children’s direct experiences of such activities through various phenomenological and ethnographic methods. In particular, they are interested in how children describe and make meaning out of these experiences that involve capturing and/or killing non-human animals, often in particular social and ecological contexts.

The Culture and Animal Foundation grant will support the team’s multi-year continued data collection and analysis over the next year. The team conducts and analyzes interviews with children and teenagers, ages 8-16. This summer, they will also engage in participant observation of fishing at local events and locations around Western New York.

In addition to interviews, Russell and his research team look at social media, literature, children’s writing and educational materials in their qualitative analyses to understand the various locations where children encounter ideas about hunting or fishing.

Russell’s research explores children’s lived relationships with various animals and the more-than-human world. He is particularly interested in experiences involving death, loss and grief as these are central to childhood, moral development, ecological identity and emotional learning about the world around them. His past work involved children’s experiences with companion animal death and has been published in several sources.

Those interested in participating in this project may contact Joshua Russell at russellj@canisius.edu.  Participants receive a $25 gift card to Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops.

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.

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