Our online graduate certificate program brings together renowned experts in veterinary medicine and animal behavior, with animal enthusiasts and working professionals – including those working in vets, shelters, research, labs, pharmaceuticals, NGOs, agriculture, and food production.
The Certificate program consists of four courses that can be taken in sequence over the academic fall and spring semesters.
VCSN 639, VCSP 633 and VCSP 639 can also be taken as stand-alone educational experiences.
VCSN 639 Animal Welfare Science (6 Credits) – Dr. Meghann Pierdon, Course Director
This course covers the basic principles, history, and application of animal welfare science. Over a series of video modules, online discussions, assignments and quizzes, this course will teach students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. Students will learn current welfare issues by species. The class will engage in activities that build the skills to find and assess scientific sources of information. Finally, the link between science and ethics will be explored such that students understand various ethical frameworks and how they relate to animal welfare. The objective of the course is to provide students with the background and application of animal welfare science which will facilitate their ability to successfully engage in welfare deliberations and welfare science in a variety of fields.
VCSP 639 Animals and Society (6 Credits) — Dr. James Serpell, Course Director
This course describes the changing roles and status of animals in society. It will examine the history of human-animal relationships through the lens of subsistence hunting, animal domestication, farming and pastoralism, animal research, and pet keeping. The historical development of ambivalent/oppositional attitudes to animal exploitation will also be described and discussed, and the remarkable diversity of contemporary human-animal relationships and their impacts on animal welfare will be explored across cultures. The influence of science, government, business and non-governmental organizations in defining and influencing animal-related laws and policies will also be addressed. The goal of the course is to provide the necessary background and information to enable students to understand and engage with the current public debate on the welfare and ‘rights’ of nonhuman animals.
VCSP 633 Fundamentals of Animal Behavior (6 Credits) – Dr. Carlo Siracusa, Course Director
This course provides students with a basic understanding of animal behavior as a foundation for understanding animal welfare. Examples from species relevant to animal welfare concerns will be used to illustrate amongst other principles Tinbergen’s four questions of behavior: causation, development, evolution, and function. Students will learn about the anatomical and physiological bases of behavior; the ecology and its influence on animal behavior; the social, ingestive, reproductive and parental behavior of animals. The goal of this course is to provide students with the tools to interpret animal behavior and then apply the inferred information to assess animal welfare.
VCSN 650 Applied Animal Welfare and Behavior (6 Credits) – Dr. Tom Parsons, Course Director
This course aims to provide students with practical skills helpful in the study of animal welfare and in the future offers a bridge to our proposed master’s program. Students will be exposed to critical reading of the scientific literature, development and testing of hypotheses, as well as typical experiment paradigms for examining animal welfare and behavior. The goal of the course is for each student to conceive, develop, write and present a research proposal on a question of interest in animal welfare that could provide the foundation for a future capstone project.