This is great news!
American Humane Association and University of Denver create $2 million endowed chair to research human-animal connection
Graduate School of Social Work to lead research in animal-assisted therapy
Denver (January 29, 2008)
The Denver-based American Humane Association and the University of Denver (DU) have established the American Humane Endowed Chair in DUs Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). The $2 million endowed chair is one of the first in the nation created to explore the expanding field of animal-assisted social work and research the bond between humans and animals.
The field has gained momentum, said GSSW Dean James Herbert Williams. This is a perfect time to inform the profession through the kind of rigorous research this endowment will allow.
American Humane and DU are forging a dynamic partnership to advance research nationally into the human-animal bond. American Humane and the Animal Assistance Foundation provided seed money to establish DUs Institute for Human-Animal Connection, whose mission is to conduct research, training and education from a human-service and animal-welfare perspective. American Humanes resources on animal cruelty and violence in society are hosted by DUs Penrose Library. The newly endowed chair perpetuates this partnership by focusing research on the therapeutic benefits of animal interaction as well as the connection between animal abuse and violence toward humans.
As early as 1894, American Humane publicly discussed the suspected link between animal abuse and other forms of social violence, said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane. Over the years, our organization has continued to examine this subject and inform educators, social workers and others about that important connection in our effort to help break the cycle of violence. This chair and our partnership with DU will be instrumental in advancing the scholarly study of all aspects of the human-animal connection, including documenting the benefitsto both people and animalsof the human-animal bond.
A national search is under way for an academic professional to fill the newly endowed chair. The new chair will lead the institutes research efforts and assist GSSWs animal-related academic programs, which include a certificate program in animal-assisted social work and an online professional development program entitled Animals and Human Health.
As relationships between humans and animals become more important and more complex, there is growing evidence of the effectiveness of therapy involving humans and animals, said Williams. Interaction with animals has been shown to increase trust, improve communication and enhance sensory-motor skills in social work clients. The new chair, in conjunction with the institute, will try to confirm the effectiveness of such treatment through research.