Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Animal welfare education – can MOOCs contribute?

Please see the link below to an article published by our MOOC team here in the JMICAWE.

Jill MacKay, Fritha Langford and Natalie Waran were three of the lecturers on the University of Edinburgh's massive open online course (MOOC) on animal behaviour and welfare that began in July. Here, they assess its global appeal and judge its success.

TO effectively improve animal welfare worldwide, we believe there is a need to use a range of educational tools, including free online courses, to provide credible and accessible education resources to present the case for an evidence-based approach to improving welfare standards. The ‘Animal behaviour and welfare’ MOOC ( was developed through the University of Edinburgh's Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education in partnership with animal welfare researchers at Scotland's Rural College.


Introduction to Animal Welfare textbook now launched in China

The JMICAWE has been involved with the CVMA and working with WAP colleagues towards the development of teaching materials including professional development to ensure that veterinary schools in China are equipped to be able to deliver quality animal welfare education to their veterinary undergraduates. To this end, we are extremely pleased with the news of the release of the Introduction to Animal Welfare textbook by the CVMA during the recent Chinese veterinary Conference.

Heather Bacon- the Centre's Veterinary Animal Welfare Education Manager, who was invited to speak at the book launch said  'Its extremely pleasing to see the progress that has been made with introducing animal welfare science into the new Chinese veterinary curriculum, along with the veterinary profession's growing commitment to ensuring that there are qualified people to teach the subject, as well as provide invaluable comment and information to aid in the improvement of the welfare of animals in China'.

Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters, are now returning from successfully collaborating with the CVMAs animal health and welfare subdivision, in co-organising the animal welfare session that forms part of the annual Chinese veterinary conference. Whilst there they provided the Chinese veterinarians with a translated version of the Animal Welfare MOOC ( Massive Open Online Course) produced and run for the first time earlier this year, attracting more than 33,000 people worldwide.

 Read more about the textbook here:

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Read  about the latest animal welfare news and activities by our dedicated team

Our Autumn newsletter is now available to download.

Stories include:




download your copy here- and please  forward to friends and colleagues!/fileManager/JMICAWE-Newsletter-issue6.pdf

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Animal welfare and ethics education to zoo experts

The use of animals in zoos around the world is a source of concern in some areas. The modern zoo is committed to education, conservation and research, activities which must be underpinned by robust animal welfare standards.

Recently Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE has contributed to delivering animal welfare and ethics education to zoo experts from around Europe at the annual conference of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, attended by approximately 700 zoo professionals from around Europe. This is the first time the animal welfare session at the conference has been led by an independent academic. In addition Heather presented her ongoing research examining the gaps in knowledge of zoo animal welfare within the zoo community, and regional variations in attitudes.

Heather has worked with EAZA on a number of collaborations including training of Chinese zoo vets to improve welfare standards, a project funded by Animals Asia. She has also been working with the European Commission and FVE since 2011 on delivering regional animal welfare workshops to veterinary practitioners around Europe.


'Zoo animal welfare science is increasingly important for good zoo animal welfare, the research into this area at JMICAWE is supporting the development of improved zoo animal welfare educational initiatives'  Heather Bacon


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The other side of Equine Welfare: Can too much misplaced love lead to obesity and health problems?

When thinking about equine welfare issues, the usual image of neglect or poor condition is  that of the underweight and overworked horse or donkey.  However there is another side to equine health and welfare that may not be so obvious. Studies show that horses are facing disability and life-threatening illnesses in an equine obesity epidemic mirroring the expanding waistlines of humans in ­affluent nations. Are we killing them with kindness?  

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has organised a series of equine obesity workshops after studies found that up to half the horses and ponies in Scotland are overweight.  Excessive weight can lead to a range of serious diseases that can be disabling and potentially fatal, including crippling hoof disease, hormonal dysfunction and weight-linked Type 2 diabetes. Horse owners are being warned to slim down their animals following growing evidence of an obesity epidemic that is threatening their health.

Professor Nat Waran, of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal WelfareEducation at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, said: “There is no doubt the majority of owners want to provide the best for their animals, but sometimes too much misplaced love can lead to welfare problems because it may not be what their horse needs.

Following these studies, two articles in the news have highlighted these issues:


Welfare and health issues of the working equine are often highlighted

But studies show that equines can face  severe health issues if they are overweight  (Photo by Sannse)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Animal Welfare MOOC: Second Running Coming Soon!

The JMICAWE team have been humbled by the overwhelming positive feedback received about our MOOC course that we ran in July  this year.   The level of engagement was superb and we would like to thank all our hardworking students for making it such a positive and fantastic experience.

We will be running the course again in early February 2015.  If you would like to be part of this you can sign up here for future alerts:


Don't forget we will also soon have options in Mandarin and Spanish

Here are just a few out of the hundreds of positive comments and feedback we received:

Fabulous course, I learned so much and find my discussions about animals are so much more balanced, the scientific approach is a great balance for the ethical and emotional response we have with our animals. It has made me better appreciate the welfare and best practises with my animals.

This course was absolutely fantastic! I have a PhD in Psychology so have spent a lot of time within the University environment, and can honestly say that the calibre of teaching and production in this course is the best I've ever encountered.

Easy and intuitive navigation through course-info. Video's + accompanying notes (with complete text of the video), helped me to better understand the lecture (I'm not a native English speaker), the interactive presentations helped me to put newly gained insights and learning into practice. The enthusiasm displayed by almost all lecturers kept me zoomed in and focussed during the video’s. I especially enjoyed the lecturers that included your own pets/horses in the video. The video of nesting behaviour of a female pig, sometime before giving birth, had a huge impact on my view on pigs and the meat-industry.

As a result of the course, I feel I am better equipped to undertake my animal welfare work. I now have an understanding of the need for evidence-based application and acknowledging the limitation of my knowledge, for further enquiry into research by acknowledged institutions like yours. I hope that some of my colleagues will take advantage of your 2015 course and be similarly enlightened.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Animal Behaviour: A brilliant start to the new term

Our on-campus MSc programme has got off to a brilliant start this term, and we are delighted to welcome our new and returning students to the new academic year.  We now have 35 students enrolled from all corners of the world. Teaching officially started two weeks ago, following a very successful induction and welcome session.   We are now looking forward to an exciting year ahead.
'We are delighted to welcome our new students to the programme and look forward to helping them learn about Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare over the coming year. 
We’ve already had a great overnight trip to the North of Scotland to visit the Highland Wildlife Park.  It allowed us to all get to know each other a bit better, and also to learn about welfare implications of keeping animals in captivity.  The Highland Wildlife Park arranged for the students to do a Welfare Assessment of certain enclosures and to discuss their recommendations with the keepers – really great experience!

The students have already started their Zoo Research Project at Edinburgh Zoo.  They are working in groups and learning about carrying out behavioural observations of, for example, Gelada Baboons, Gentoo Penguins, Otters and Darwin’s Rhea.'                       Dr Susan Jarvis, Programme Director

The MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare is an on-campus, research-based programme run in collaboration with SRUC. Teaching is mainly based at the Easter Bush campus, a state-of-the-art facility.

For more information about the programme please go to this link: