Our society is currently re-examining its entire relationship with animals and the natural world. Until recently, issues such as animal welfare and environmental protection were considered the domain of small idealistic minorities. In the last 20-30 years, they have become matters of widespread public and political concern.
The Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society (CIAS) is a multi-disciplinary research center within the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It was re-established in 1997 to provide a forum for addressing the many practical and moral issues arising from the interactions of animals and society. The study of human-animal interactions is still a new and developing field that straddles the boundaries between traditional academic disciplines. For this reason, the CIAS strives for an interdisciplinary approach and the involvement of scholars and researchers from a wide variety of different backgrounds and interests.
The broad goal of the CIAS is to promote understanding of human-animal interactions and relationships across a wide range of contexts including companion animals, farm animals, laboratory animals, zoo animals, and free-living wild animals. More specifically, the CIAS aims to:
- Study the positive and negative influence of people’s relationships with animals on their physical and mental health and well being.
- Investigate the impact of these relationships on the behavior and welfare of the animals involved.
- Encourage constructive, balanced, and well-informed debate and discussion on the ethics of animal use.
- Use the knowledge and information gained from this work to benefit people, and promote the humane use and treatment of animals.