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.
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.
Learn more about educational programs at IHAC.Explore
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.Learn More
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.Learn More
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 dogsLearn More
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 practiceLearn More
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.Learn More
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.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.