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Holistic approaches to animals in teaching: who learns from whom?

Collins, T. (2013) Holistic approaches to animals in teaching: who learns from whom? In: Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching. Annual Conference on Thinking Outside the Cage: A Different Point of View, 24 - 26 July, 2012, Perth, Western Australia

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Animals used in teaching are a highly valued resource and yet their use stimulates much controversy. The scope for using animals for educational purposes is wide and decisions about their use are made based on the specific learning objectives, the species required and the nature of the use which must involve a detailed cost-benefit evaluation. Our consideration and approval of such use is broadly based on sciencebased and ethics-based concepts. We need to know what guarantees good welfare of our subjects (the science) and how important the use is, and whether it can be justified (ethics). Scientists are well advanced in assessing the degree of any harm done by identifying the various components of welfare (e.g. physiology and behaviour), but there is a need to take a more holistic approach - that is taking a ‗whole animal‘approach, such as, using qualitative assessments and seeking the opinions of the wider community. As animals may have good or bad experiences in our hands, we have at the very least, an obligation to treat them considerately and to constantly review whether their use in teaching can be replaced by alternatives. This translates into minimizing the harm we do to them and, importantly, maximizing the good. Animal welfare is a complex entity and the use of animals in teaching provides an ideal experience for veterinary and animal science students and staff to engage in a discussion linking philosophical values and evidence-based science that leads to converging views.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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