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

Students with pig

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.


IHAC Education

Therapy rat in class

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.

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therapy dog

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.

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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 applications in therapy practice integrating equines.

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child brushing horse

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.

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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.

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Scholars with Collars training session

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.

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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
Student with research poster

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 focused on mental health and equityOur research aims to understand how interactions with other species and the environment affect individual and community health and well-being, and provides new insights into the relationships between humans, animals and the environment we share.

Learn more about research at IHAC.

Students with mini horse

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

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