The first of its kind in the nation, our human-animal-environment interactions in social work (HAEI-SW) master’s certificate of specialization prepares you to recognize the impact of human-animal-environment interactions in culturally responsive and ethically advanced professional social work practice settings. This certificate is currently available to students enrolled in our Denver Campus MSW Program, and you complete the certificate alongside your other MSW coursework. Together, the MSW degree and certificate will prepare you to consider humans, animals and the environment in both clinical and community-based social work settings such as mental health agencies, schools, and animal shelters. The certificate centers social justice and highlights intersectional systems of oppression, speciesism and violence directed towards humans, animals, and the environment.

Offered by the Graduate School of Social Work and the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, this certificate will add three specialized elective courses to the MSW curriculum during your concentration year. 

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Student and pig

Hands-On Learning

Explore how interactions with animals and the environment profoundly impact lives, transform treatment, and improve the welfare of children, adults, families, and communities. Train a professional therapy dog during graduate school, build your clinical social work skills to incorporate animals into therapeutic environments, and develop programs and policy for community social work settings.

International Courses and Internships

Human-animal-environment certificate students can gain a global perspective through optional international courses and internships.

  • Intern Alongside Giant Pandas

    Learn how human behavior influences habitat protection for animals such as the giant panda by studying biodiversity protection issues while completing an internship at the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, China.

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  • Advocate for Wild Animals in Kenya

    Learn about the illegal wildlife trade, wild animal protection and advocacy as you participate in anti-poaching work while on assignment with our partners at Africa Network for Animal Welfare in Kenya.

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Your Career Options

By completing the human-animal-environment interactions in social work certificate, you’ll graduate with an additional professional credential and a competitive advantage in your job search. Your social work career could include:

  • Creating, implementing and evaluating therapy services where interactions with animals are incorporated to enhance therapeutic approaches
  • Conducting site assessments to determine suitability for human-animal-environment interactions in clinical and community settings
  • Identifying, assessing and intervening in “the link” violence—the frequent connection between animal abuse and violence toward people
  • Integrating concepts of nature-based therapeutics, humane education and conservation in your social work practice
  • Implementing science-based care, handling, and training for therapy animals in accordance with national standards
  • Becoming an advocate for welfare and ethics across species
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“I obtained the clinical social work skills needed to help children and families who are facing poverty, mental illness and trauma. I have also incorporated my education about the human-animal-environment connection to create Greencare programs that provide animal-assisted and nature-based interventions to children.”

Caroline Malone Chaney, MSW 2016
Caroline Malone Chaney on a mountain top with her dog

Key Faculty

 
Philip Tedeschi

Philip Tedeschi

Clinical Professor

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Sarah Bexell

Sarah Bexell

Clinical Associate Professor

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Nina Ekholm-Fry

Nina Ekholm Fry

Director of Equine Programs, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Carri King-Bussard

Carri King-Bussard

Adjunct Faculty

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Adam Clark

Adam Clark

Adjunct Faculty

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Molly Jenkins

Molly Jenkins

Adjunct Faculty

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Application Information

Upcoming Final Application Deadline: August 2021 Two-Year Denver Campus Program