Monday, 16 July 2012

Animal welfare and ethics teaching an essential part of the veterinary curriculum

On 12th and 13th July, Edinburgh's R(D)SVS hosted the VetEd conference, which brought together veterinary educationalists, practitioners, researchers and students and to share innovation, ideas and best practice in veterinary education.
As part of the conference, the JMICAWE in collaboration with colleagues from Glasgow and Bristol vet schools and the SAC delivered an animal welfare and ethics teaching workshop. The workshop was attended by a good number of delegates who discussed the importance of educating veterinarians so that they appreciated their important role in the area of applied animal welfare. Workshop delegates felt that animal welfare, in its entirety, should become a major subject in the curriculum of every veterinary school (Fraser 2008), with most feeling that embedding animal welfare within courses is the best way for engaging students with the science as well as developing greater awareness of the ethical and practical issues. The workshop considered the topic of animal welfare education within the veterinary curriculum, using a 3Es approach and we were shown how new delivery modes could help to Engage with international and national students to deliver animal welfare knowledge that reflects the diverse and changing world, whilst Empowering learning through providing students with the ability to become active participants in relation to the context in which they are studying and Encouraging ownership of the learning experience by helping students to integrate and apply theoretical knowledge in the real world.
Finally we reflected upon some of the barriers to delivering animal welfare teaching which included lack of awareness amongst colleagues teaching in other courses, lack of context or relevance impeding learning, lack of engagement by students who see it as nice but not necessary, and lack of a consistent approach across vet schools. We ended by agreeing that through sharing materials and best practise, animal welfare lecturers would better equip themselves to ensure the engagement of colleagues and students, and that knowledge was transferred in the most effective way.

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