Monday, 3 June 2013

Life as a student on our online MSc International Animal Welfare program

Written by Amber Barnes, a current MSc IAWEL student and winner of an Animal Welfare Trust grant.
I had been searching for a graduate program for some time when I came across the International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law program (MSc IAWEL) at the University of Edinburgh. 
I was specifically looking for comprehensive courses  in animal welfare, geographical flexibility and rigorous standards that would challenge me and prepare me for a career in animal welfare.  I have found all this and more in the IAWEL program.  Any concerns I may have had about online study were quickly relieved as I have found it most engaging and inclusive.  Of course, managing time zones and personal commitments, such as work and family, has been difficult at times, but it has certainly been worth it.  Indeed managing these time zones and working in groups with students with diverse cultural backgrounds has only served to prepare me for a career in international animal welfare.
When I started the Masters program, I held a position as an adoptions specialist and community educator  at a local humane society, though my background is as varied as the animals with which I have worked. The information  provided in the Companion Animal Welfare course has proved most beneficial  as I am able to give the community reliable, up to date information on the needs of their companion animals and better manage the welfare of animals that come into the shelter.  
More recently, I received a grant from the Animal Welfare Trust  to work with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries on welfare protocols, accrediting sanctuaries and placing displaced, retired or abused exotic animals, wildlife and equines into approved sanctuaries on a global level. In the first course of the MSc IAWEL; International Animal Welfare Science,  I became familiar both with creating welfare protocols and preparing research proposals . Possession of such knowledge  certainly  gave me an edge when preparing my grant application.
Additionally, the experience  of networking with other students and professionals from so many different areas in the world, makes me an ideal candidate for the position. Currently I am assisting a bear sanctuary in China in the accreditation process,  helping people in Israel place injured animals in sanctuaries and collaborating with professionals in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey on  other animal placements.
I am certainly happy with my decision in choosing this program and look forward to what new information I will receive in the next year and how I will grow as a student and a professional.

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