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.

Dimensions of Humane Communities Online Lecture Series

With human behavior at the center of the most pressing issues facing humanity, other animals and the environment, the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) aims to reflect, explore and discuss how human change mechanisms at the individual, community and organizational levels are needed to create sustainable improvements for all. IHAC’s Dimensions of Humane Communities webinar series features natural and social science-informed education, research and advocacy efforts that work toward a more compassionate and humane world, one community at a time.This online lecture series will feature events with experts in each of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection’s three core areas: Therapeutic Human-Animal Interactions, Animals & Communities, and Conservation Social Work. 

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IHAC Educational Programs

We focus on helping professionals to increase their understanding of animal behavior and human-animal-environment interactions and enhance their clinical practice working in partnership with animals. We center ethics and animal welfare in all of our educational programs, including four professional development certificates and the Master of Social Work (MSW) Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate.

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IHAC Education

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Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate

Our animal-assisted social work (AASW) 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.

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Animals and Human Health Certificate

The Animals and Human Health Certificate focuses on animal-assisted therapy, activities, learning and applications, including how to create and implement high-quality animal-assisted intervention programs.

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Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate

The Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist program provides competency-based training for animal-assisted intervention professionals seeking to improve their knowledge and skill working with dogs

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Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate

The Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner program provides the education, training and supervision necessary for ethical equine-assisted applications in therapy practice

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Building Empathy and Stewardship: Certificate in Humane Education

The Certificate in Humane Education focuses on humane education training for teachers, mental health professionals, parents, caregivers, and informal educators.

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Orientation to Animal-Assisted Interventions Course

Our Orientation to Animal-Assisted Interventions course provides an introduction to the field of human-animal interactions, including the impact of the human-animal bond across lifespans, animal-assisted interventions, and considerations for the welfare of working animals.

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Learn more about our professional development certificate programs.

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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.

“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.” 

Marlon Reis, Community Partner, Colorado First Gentleman and Animal Welfare Advocate Read More
Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis
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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 workFrom 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.

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Together we can strengthen the connection between people, animals and the environment.

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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.

Learn more about our community partnerships and advocacy work.

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