Bekoff M. They Kill Dogs, Don't They? Blending ‘Science Sense’ with Common Sense, Compassion, and Heart in the Study of Animal Emotions and in Humane Education. Paper presented at: Alternatives in the Mainstream: Innovations in Life Science Education and Training. 2nd InterNICHE Conference; 2005 May 12-15; Oslo, Norway


In this talk I raise a number of issues that are important to consider in discussions of animal emotions and animal sentience and how the study of animal emotions and animal sentience can result in more humane education. I argue for a paradigm shift in how we study animal emotions and animal sentience and what we do with the information we already have, ‘scientific’ and otherwise. Just because something supposedly worked in the past doesn't mean that it works now or that it ever did. Animal emotions and animal sentience matter very much not only because what animals feel must be used first and foremost for influencing how we interact with and use other animals, but also because broad studies of animal emotions and animal sentience raise numerous ‘big’ questions about the nature of science itself. We can also learn much about ourselves when we ponder the nature of animal passions and beastly virtues.

Children are inherently and intuitively curious naturalists. They are sponges for knowledge, ab-sorbing, retaining and using new information at astounding rates. We all know this, but often we forget when we're helping to develop their roles as future ambassadors with other animals, nature and ourselves. Some are also future leaders on whose spirit and good will many of us will d pend. They will be other animals' and our voices - indeed, voices of the universe. So, it makes good sense to teach children well, to be role models, to infuse their education with kindness and co passion so that their decisions are founded on a deeply rooted, automatic reflex-like caring ethic.

Similarly with life science students, all these qualities must be sustained and developed, and we also need to ensure that they learn about and use alternative methods in their practical classes and field studies. If we don't have this positive educational and social environment, then they, we, other animals, human communities, and environments will suffer. How we educate children and students will make a huge impact on the type of world in which we live in the future.