Institute for Human-Animal Connection
The well-being of humans, other animals and the environment are deeply interconnected, and optimum human health and resilience requires mutually healthy living systems—from thoughtful petkeeping to global biodiversity. Through education, research and advocacy focused on therapeutic human-animal interactions, animals in communities, and conservation social work, the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) elevates the value of the living world and the interrelationship of human, animal and environmental health.
Guided by our commitment to social justice and cultural responsiveness—and a belief in the power of systemic change—we drive improvements in animal welfare. We collaborate and share our expertise in the human-animal bond, human-animal-environment interactions and One Health with our Colorado community and worldwide, knowing that when we promote healthy human-animal relationships, we improve outcomes for both.
What's New at IHAC
2024-2026 Research Fellowship - Accepting Applications Now!
Apply today for a unique research training opportunity at the University of Denver's Institute for Human-Animal Connection! It’s a two-year, hybrid position at the institute that will focus on our growing trauma research portfolio. The goal of this position is to provide the Research Fellow with robust training in social science research with a focus on the Human-Animal Interaction field in preparation for a career in research. The fellow will primarily focus on examining the impacts of pairing service dogs with military veterans experiencing PTSD, staying current on best practices in conducting trauma-informed research, and exploring pet dogs’ impacts on their humans’ stress responses. This role includes substantial exposure to project management, grant writing, and networking.
An ideal candidate will have a Master’s degree or Spring 2024 anticipated Master’s degree in a relevant field or equivalent experience, in addition to experience working in the social and/or biological sciences as well as experience in quantitative and/or qualitative work. Applications are due March 31, 2024 for a July 2024 start.
Research Associate I - Hiring Now!
We are currently hiring for a full-time, benefitted position in our Animals and Communities research portfolio. The Research Associate I will work closely with Ximena Salgado-Santamaria on supporting the PetSmart Charities Incubator: Diverse Community Care Program Evaluation project. The Incubator project is a multi-year grant addressing barriers to veterinary care in communities across the US that have little or no access to care.
This position could be structured remotely for the right candidate. A graduate degree in social or physical sciences is required, in addition to previous direct experience in research. Applications are due on March 22, 2024.
IHAC Educational Programs
We focus on helping professionals increase their understanding of animal behavior and human-animal-environment interactions and enhance their practice working in partnership with animals. We center ethics and animal welfare in all of our educational programs, including professional development certificates, courses, webinars, and the Master of Social Work (MSW) Human-Animal-Environment Interaction certificate.
Learn more about educational programs at IHAC.Explore
Animals and Human Health Certificate
The Animals and Human Health Certificate focuses on human-animal interactions, activities, learning and applications, including how to create and implement high-quality interaction programs.Learn More
Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate
The Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist program provides competency-based training for human-animal interaction professionals seeking to improve their knowledge and skills working with dogs.Learn More
Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate
The Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner program provides the education, training and supervision necessary for ethical applications in therapy practice integrating equines.Learn More
Equine Behavior Course
The Equine Behavior course teaches how the behavior of horses relates to their care, healthy development, and overall welfare and needs with a focus on human-horse interactions.Learn More
Orientation to Human-Animal Interactions Course
The Orientation to Human-Animal Interactions course introduces the connection between humans and animals and looks at micro, mezzo, and macro career applications in this field.Learn More
Human-Animal-Environment Interaction Certificate
Our human-animal-environment interactions in social work (HAEI-SW) master’s certificate, earned in tandem with a master of social work (MSW) is the first of its kind in the nation, and explores social justice from the perspective of humans, animals and the environment.Learn More
Our Global Impact
30+ Graduate students participate in institute research projects every year.
140 MSW students trained on human-animal-environment interactions annually.
1,000+ People from six continents have completed our certificate programs.
Marlon Reis, Community Partner, Colorado First Gentleman and Animal Welfare Advocate Read More
“The Institute for Human-Animal Connection is exactly the answer to all among us who know that animals deserve better but who lack either the data or the training to interpret the data that would allow us to take our case to the next level.”
Research into Human-Animal-Environment Relationships
We are working to improve the well-being of humans, animals and the environment through rigorous research and scholarship in the areas of therapeutic human-animal interactions, animals in communities, and conservation social work. From identifying best practices for prison dog training programs, to evaluating a human-rights approach to family planning, to measuring the economic impacts of animal welfare policies, our research is providing new insights into the relationships between humans, animals and the environment we share.
Learn more about research at IHAC.Explore
Advancing Policy and Practice
We translate research and education on the human-animal bond and human-animal-environment interactions into practice and policy to build healthier and more resilient communities. As a community resource, we host public events and conferences, provide training and consultation services, cultivate community partnerships in Colorado and around the globe, and engage in advocacy work that shapes public policy.