The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is leading the way in animal-assisted social work and human-animal interaction education and professional development. University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work remains one of the only programs in the world to offer specialization in human-animal interactions alongside a graduate level social science degree.
The Institute for Human-Animal Connection believes it is important to intentionally elevate the value of the living world around us and promotes the exploration of this connection through the lens of contemporary education, science, research, advocacy and ethics with respect for all species.
- We believe responsible and respectful interaction with animals and the environment is necessary to establish global and ecological stability, sustainability and equality.
- The quest for new knowledge about human-animal connections and social-ecological systems must reflect respect for social justice, cultural diversity and beneficial social change.
- Animal and human lives intersect in ways that are most often beneficial to both but can, at times, be detrimental. We are committed to exploring both the evidence-supported benefits and risks of human-animal interactions.
- Human-animal connections occur at the individual level but also extend to natural physical environments and to relationships within the family, community, broader society and the global village. We endorse a framework of conservation social work and One Health that acknowledges these interrelations at multiple levels and encourages multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches.
- The therapeutic partnership with animals for the improvement of human physical and mental health must ensure that animals also benefit and are treated within ethical and humane guidelines.
- We are dedicated to preparing professional social workers to foster informed, grassroots community resilience. Just as we are prepared to recognize the ugly face of discrimination and prejudice and openly label racial discrimination as immoral and illegal, we must prepare the profession to do the same on behalf of the living world that is our only home.
- Our relationship with Earth is an enduring feature of our lives, homes and communities and modern understanding has rekindled acceptance of non-human animals and the natural environment as important contributors to our lives.