By: Philip Mansbridge, republished with permission from IFAW
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) signed a brand new Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Winchester in the UK, which recently opened its Centre for Animal Welfare, offering undergraduate courses in Animal Welfare and Society, as well as a Masters in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law. It also offers postgraduate research degrees (PhD) in the same disciplines.
The vision is to create a whole new cohort of animal welfare experts, tagging on to the growing, and long overdue, recognition that animal welfare is seen and respected as an expert discipline in its very own right.
There were many reasons why IFAW chose to partner with the University of Winchester. One of the main reasons was the Professor and Course Director, Professor Andrew Knight. Andrew is a European and American Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare with a long history of practising veterinary medicine. More recently he taught animal ethics, welfare, veterinary practice management, and surgical and medical skills at one of the world’s largest veterinary schools in the Caribbean. As well as having published numerous papers on animal welfare, he also serves on the editorial boards of two journals within the animal welfare and ethics field.
Another reason is the University of Winchester’s passion and interest for the department. Vice Chancellor Joy Carter has a very strong interest in animals and their welfare, and the lovely campus is awash not only with wildlife friendly plants and greenery, but also with animal artwork, sculptures and photographs.
Soon after our initial discussions began, it was clear the relationship would be truly symbiotic, with both partners benefiting immensely.
Within the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are commitments for IFAW to give guest lectures about animal welfare in action (within the animal welfare/conservation sector), offer work placements for students, and to work closely with Professor Knight, his colleagues and students to offer research that will fill knowledge gaps for live or future issues, in line with our charity’s programmatic needs.
Currently NGOs like IFAW get many requests from PhD students to support their work in one field or another, but owing to our priority areas, and our forward planning, it is rare that the two needs align. By partnering with the University of Winchester we ensure research will have a practical application within the animal welfare sector. In addition, IFAW benefits by talking to and forging long-term partnership relationships with future leaders in the field.
It was a joy to see the MOU signed after lots of hard work to get to this point, and we hope that this model can be a benchmark for similar partnerships in the UK and across the countries where we operate. It’s widely held that knowledge is power; in this case, knowledge of animal welfare, ethics and law is much more than that – it’s a future of hope for animals.
Philip is the UK Regional Director, heading up IFAW’s largest country office and leading a team of dedicated and highly experienced campaigners, operations and philanthropy staff.