The first of its kind in the nation, our human-animal-environment interactions in social work (HAEI-SW) master’s certificate (formerly the animal assisted social work certificate) 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. In addition, optional, 1-credit course offerings on applied topics such as pro-active canine handling and training for social work settings are also available to certificate students.
In 2021, the Animal Assisted Social Work certificate became the Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work certificate. The new certificate name and revised content further strengthens the sequence of the certificate courses and reduces any overlap, also with concentrations, reaffirms the focus on HAEIs in clinical and community-based social work practice, and centers social work actions within intersecting systems of health, wellness, oppression, and violence between humans, animals, and the environment.
Want to learn more about the human-animal-environment interactions in social work certificate?
Explore how interactions with animals and the environment profoundly impact lives, transform treatment, and improve the welfare of children, adults, families, and communities. 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.
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.
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
Foundations for Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work
About this Course
Foundational course with broad survey of the field and value exploration. Introduction to cultural and social justice aspects of human-animal-environment interactions. Formation of personal HAEI-SW vision and ethical framework, and beginning of culmination project concept development.
Human-Animal-Environment Interventions in Social Work Practice
About this Course
Focus on skill development for the integration of animals in social work practice with a primary focus on treatment. Exploration of clinical and community practice frameworks, across the lifespan.
Professional Integration of Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work
About this Course
Culmination course with a focus on applying knowledge and demonstrating competence through program and/or service design. Includes professional development and job search preparation unique to HAEIs in social work.
Caroline Malone Chaney, MSW 2016
“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.”
GSSW alumni Carina Kellenberger and Dana Schultz use horses to help treat people who are working through trauma, grief, PTSD, mental health disorders and adverse life events.
A conservation social work course took Graduate School of Social Work students to Kenya, where they discovered how the lives of humans and threatened species intersect.
Connecting Social Work and Animal Welfare
Jazzy Salter chose to pursue her Master of Social Work degree with the Animal-Assisted Social Work (AASW) Certificate through the Graduate School of Social Work and Institute for Human-Animal Connection because of the many different career paths available, including animal welfare.
Upcoming Early Application Deadline: Summer and Fall 2023 Denver Campus MSW Program and Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program