Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Wildlife takes the spotlight in ethics conference

Earth Week isn’t just about the environment; it’s also about animals. And when it comes to animal ethics, humans must speak up.

In honor of Earth Week, DU’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) will host its second annual conference, “Animals Matter: Perspectives in Conservation Social Work and Human-Animal Ethics.”

The conference will feature four renowned speakers: DU scholars-in-residence Marc Bekoff and Sarah Bexell; Jos Ngonyo, the director of the African Network for Animal Welfare; and Ray Powell of the Jane Goodall Institute.

There also will be a recorded greeting from Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist and ethologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports animal and environmental issues through numerous initiatives.

Among the major issues to be discussed is poaching, says Philip Tedeschi, the institute’s clinical director and associate clinical professor at the GSSW. Poachers illegally hunt and trap animals, then sell the meat for big money.

“Human challenges like poverty and being displaced from your homeland can lead to pressures on the environment and human-animal conflict such as deforestations, poaching and snaring,” Tedeschi says. “[This] not only devastates animals and the environment but diminishes the quality of life for people.”

The conference will highlight solutions, especially efforts to protect habitat and wildlife. Other topics include ethical inclusion of animals in therapies.

During a vegetarian lunch, participants can talk with representatives from environmental groups including a human-animal bond service and DU’s chapter of Roots & Shoots, a youth-led community service organization started by Goodall. The organization has more than 10,000 members in 100 countries.

“The institute has a one-day event each year that highlights the connection between humans and animals,” Tedeschi says. “It is easy to become detached from our environment in our daily lives, but our relationship with the natural world, especially animals, reminds us that we are in this together.”

The conference will be from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. April 20 in the Boettcher Foundation Community Room at the School of Social Work. Registration is open to the public and costs $70; students may purchase discounted tickets for $20. Tickets are available online or at the door.

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