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Human / Companion Animal Wellbeing

Human / Companion Animal Wellbeing

Funded by:  Wellcome Trust

Main contact:  Dr Sarah Cockram

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A one-day cross-disciplinary workshop on Human / Companion Animal Wellbeing was held at the University of Glasgow on 4 December 2015. The workshop asked what it means to live alongside companion animals, both for the wellbeing of the owner and of the pet, exploring ethical questions and implications for human and animal health, as well as practical interventions in human and animal lives.

The workshop brought together a very diverse group of practitioners and researchers from across the University of Glasgow and beyond. Participants were drawn from the University of Glasgow’s College of Arts, Medical Humanities Research Centre, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, and Small Animal Hospital as well as guests from institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Manchester and Cambridge.

The workshop introduced on-going and projected research, allowing all participants to talk about their work; it presented the varied approaches and findings of five research projects in progress on historical and contemporary relationships of humans and companion animals; fostered lively conversation on the state of the field and current practice; and initiated exciting new interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Responses to the workshop:

Professor Clare Knottenbelt, Small Animal Hospital, University of Glasgow:

'As a vet I thought I knew all about animal research but attending the workshop was an incredible experience akin to finding out that a world that appeared flat was in fact round. Meeting such array of talented, eloquent and interesting people and learning about their research was inspirational and I talked of little else for days afterwards'

Dr Jo Williams, Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Edinburgh:

'Thanks for organising such a valuable event. I'd like to comment on how vibrant the meeting was and how the cross-disciplinary membership led to some really innovative research ideas that may spark fruitful interdisciplinary projects and funding applications.'

Dr Andrew Gardiner, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh:

‘Excellent format allowed for interesting exchanges between different disciplines and practitioners’

Professor Erica Fudge, School of Humanities, University of Strathclyde:

'The meeting provided a great opportunity for veterinary scientists and humanities people to sit down and talk together about a shared interest. Such encounters are rare and very valuable if we are to develop our understanding of the lives we live alongside animals.'

Ryan Callander, History Honours student, University of Glasgow:

'This workshop presented a unique opportunity to meet with the leading minds in this vibrant new field of study. To hear the range of perspectives which scholars from each field had to offer was enlightening and inspiring.'

Image Credit: Titian and workshop, The Vendramin Family (detail) © The National Gallery, London.