Opportunities for Learning about Animal Welfare from Online Courses to Graduate Degrees

  • Siegford J
  • Cottee S
  • Widowski T
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Abstract

Knowledge of animal welfare has become essential for veterinarians. However, there is no clear consensus about how to provide veterinarians and students with this critical information. The challenges associated with finding qualified instructors and fitting additional courses into an already full curriculum mean that options for learning about animal welfare beyond the veterinary school classroom must be explored. Online courses can be excellent ways for veterinary students and graduate veterinarians to become familiar with current animal-welfare science, assessment schemes, and regulations while removing geographical barriers and scheduling difficulties. Faculty at Michigan State University have created an online animal-welfare course with lecture material from experts in welfare-related social and scientific fields that provides an overview of the underlying concepts as well as opportunities to practice assessing welfare. However, to develop expertise in animal welfare, veterinarians need more than a single course. Graduate degrees can be a way of obtaining additional knowledge and scientific expertise. Traditional thesis-based graduate programs in animal-welfare science are available in animal-science departments and veterinary colleges throughout North America and offer students in-depth research experience in specific areas or species of interest. Alternatively, the University of Guelph offers a year-long Master of Science degree in which students complete a series of courses with a specialization in animal behavior and welfare along with a focused research project and paper. In summary, a range of options exist that can be tailored to provide graduate veterinarians and veterinary students with credible education regarding animal welfare beyond the veterinary curriculum.

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Authors

  • Janice M. Siegford

  • Stephanie Yue Cottee

  • Tina M. Widowski

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