An interesting discussion, Peter - I enjoyed reading this article too, although most of the programs it mentions (Wesleyan, NYU, MSU) have been in the works for a few years now.
I've taught an animal studies class both at UMass Lowell (which I've taught three times - you can see syllabi and other course info by scrolling down to the bottom of my course wiki, here: http://ikesharpless.pbworks.com) and at the Tufts Experimental College (http://animalethics.pbworks.com).
I'm also a graduate of another program that the NYT piece didn't mention: The Tufts Vet School's Center for Animals and Public Policy - which is more of an applied animal welfare program than a critical animal studies program...this list from Blogger James Stanescu also provides a good overview of some other programs: http://criticalanimal.blogspot.com/2011/11/help-me-generate-list-of.... And here's a recent blog post of mine on some upcoming conferences and calls for papers that might be of interest: http://ikesharpless.com/?p=885
I'd point out, too, that critical animal studies is only one of a number of possible approaches to the issues at hand. I recently applied to PhD programs in political science, and am hoping to study some of these issues through the lens of political theory.
I would love to hear if any other PPN members are directly or indirectly involved in animal studies!
It's great to hear about your goals and the links you provided are very helpful and encouraging. I had not realized that there are so many programs with specialties in animal studies and the ethics of this area. I would be very interested to hear from anyone with experience in these programs and to know what are the current critical issues in these fields.
Given the field's still-inchoate nature, I suspect there are as many current critical issues under exploration as there are scholars with diverse interests: 'critical animal studies' tends to be more abolitionist in focus (there's a conference coming up soon at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, with a focus on how animal studies overlaps with the Occupy movement and related issues), but there are a wide range of overlapping subdisciplines in various programs (sociology, philosophy, and English all seem reasonably prominent in different ways--political science, my discipline, is less focused on the issue, although some recent works (Donaldson and Kymlicka's Zoopolis, for example) do focus on nonhuman animals. My 'blogroll' (at http://ikesharpless.com/) is just a cut-and-paste of my Google Reader feed, and it includes a number of academic bloggers in the field. The fact that places like NYU and Wesleyan (my undergraduate Alma Mater...) are starting actual animal studies programs is definitely a promising sign, although there still isn't much in the way of actual doctoral programs, other than MSU's. But Scu's blog post (from Critical Animal) indicates that there's at least substantial development within various departments.