Ethics of Animal Welfare

An obese dog, stranded whales or a lame cow.

These are just a few examples of the many situations in which animal welfare plays a central role. There is a clear increase of public attention for animal welfare. Both traditional and social media pay a lot of attention to animals and their welfare, and people often have clear views on what they think to be good or bad for an animal. This attention to animal welfare is not limited to the level of personal views and opinions or restricted to the Western world only. Animal welfare is on the public agenda.

This position of animal welfare implies that those who are professionally involved with animals should not only be able to discuss and assess animal welfare in empirical terms, but should also be able to address its ethical dimension. This ethical dimension shows that animal welfare is special: it not about facts and figures only, but is intrinsically related to values and ethical principles. Science can answer questions of “what is”, but to ultimately answer questions concerning animal welfare one must also deliberate and answer questions about “what ought to be” and what is desirable.

The aim of this unique course on animal welfare ethics is to make you aware of the ethical dimensions of dealing with animal and animal welfare issues. Although there are many online medical courses available about ethics in general or animal welfare in particular, these subjects are rarely addressed in combination. Yet any discussion of animal welfare requires an ability to understand and debate the ethical background and moral aspects involved.

Animal welfare ethics is interdisciplinary

Veterinarians, as well as scientists, managers and policymakers working in the field of animal welfare, care or management, will therefore find this interdisciplinary course highly useful. It offers knowledge and tools that will enable you to deal with ethical questions on both a theoretical and a practical level. The course provides room to choose your own case study to apply the course materials to a field or theme that is most relevant to you.

During this course, you will learn about ethical questions specific to dealing with animals, scientific and moral concepts of animal welfare, societal frames, the differences between ´animal rights´ and ´animal welfare´ approaches, ethical tools that can be useful in addressing practical ethical questions, and practical dilemmas.

  • Learning objectives

  • Course topics

  • Learning methods

  • Accreditation

  • Assessment

  • Entry requirements

Course is offered by

Academic Staff

Pim Rooymans MD


Support Staff

Nienke Verdonk MSc MA

Elevate Coordinator

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