The need for humane education is acute as widespread environmental devastation and abuse of nonhuman animals threaten human health and well-being. Humane education demonstrates how strengthened bonds between humans, animals and Earth can bring about lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological change. The humane education philosophy aims to heal our planet to allow it to maintain humanity, and for humans to live with each other and other species in peace and with compassion.

The Institute for Human-Animal Connection professional development certificate in humane education and interventions focuses on humane education training for teachers, mental health professionals, parents, caregivers, and informal educators.

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The Need for Humane Education

The Academy of Prosocial Learning provides the following definition of humane education: “Humane education encourages cognitive, affective and behavioral growth through personal development of critical thinking, problem solving, perspective taking, and empathy as it relates to people, animals, the planet, and the intersections among them.” Humane education fosters compassion, healthy choices, social-emotional growth, critical thinking skills and a sense of purpose in young children. Humane education activities and learning apply in many settings. For example:

As part of a visit from the local humane society, an individual learns that millions of dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the U.S. alone. She shares this with her family and friends and encourages all to adopt companion animals from shelters.

As part of his summer camp experience at a farm animal sanctuary, a child bonds with a calf and does independent investigation to discover how they are treated in the dairy industry and subsequently decides to lessen his consumption of dairy products.

In social studies class, a student learns that students of color face disproportionate rates of disciplinary action in U.S. public schools. After further researching this issue, the student gives a presentation to his school administrators about Restorative Justice practices, and how implementing a program would foster a more just and positive school culture. 

During lunch, a group of students notice that the trash bins around their school are filled with single-use plastic bottles. They decide that their peers need access to better options, so they speak with the principal about installing a bottle filling station and recycling bins.

On a recent school trip to a children’s science museum, a girl learns about the importance of all animals to the world. After this trip, she sees her classmates trying to step on spiders because they think the spiders are scary and poisonous. She educates her classmates on the spiders’ importance and helps them move the spiders outside to an appropriate location.

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Program Emphasis

The application of humane education requires that those delivering the interventions are compassionate, knowledgeable, trained and have the expertise necessary to attend to the needs of people, other animals and the natural world simultaneously. Students who complete the humane education and interventions certificate will:

  • Maintain a firm understanding of the interconnections between humans, other animals and environmental health
  • Understand how the effects of human behavior and psychology have had a detrimental impact on global health and social stability
  • Demonstrate deep empathy and a passion for promoting the well-being of humans, other animals and the natural world simultaneously
  • Learn how to foster the best qualities in themselves and in humans of all ages, for their health and well-being and for that of our world
  • Learn to create and implement high-quality humane education programs and interventions


The certificate earns 29 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.


Students learn to create humane education programming & interventions for all ages, 0-100+!


Enrollment is capped at 12 students per cohort for a high quality learning environment.

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Program Format

The program includes three online courses and one residential workshop in Denver, Colorado. You’ll progress through the courses in sequence with a peer cohort—just 12 students. You may complete coursework at your pace within specified due dates. Experiential activities will require you to work in the community, away from the computer. As you move through the program, your instructors will offer guidance, provide individualized weekly feedback and actively participate in online discussion forums.

Courses are delivered online through Canvas. In addition to coursework, projects are incorporated throughout the program. Assignments and projects are based on engagement (peer-to-peer and to instructor, and in your community). Students will also have "face-to-face" time with their cohort and instructor, meeting for 2-4 pre-scheduled synchronous sessions per course (via Zoom). 

Upcoming Program Dates

  2022 Cohort
Introduction to Humane Education Course (online)

September 11 - November 4, 2022

Humane Pedagogy Course (online)

January 9 - March 3, 2023

Humane Education Program Design Course (online)

March 20 - April 28, 2023

Humane Education Capstone (in Denver, CO)

May 5 - 6, 2023


Application Information


Capstone Session

You’ll finalize your certificate with the production of an action plan for participating in the development of kind communities within your home or work setting. On Day 1, you’ll join your cohort and instructors at the University of Denver to present your capstone project to a panel of experts. The second day will be filled with learning about the variety of experiential learning strategies and opportunities available along Colorado’s Front Range, from Erie to Larkspur.

“We cannot ignore the interweaving of life on Earth. I aim to help students and society participate in the global movement to protect life on Earth.” 

Sarah Bexell, Faculty, Director of Humane Education Learn More
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Certificate Faculty & Staff

Sarah Bexell

Sarah Bexell

Clinical Associate Professor

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Arielle Giddens

Arielle Giddens

Program Manager, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Maggie Lantzy

Maggie Lantzy

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Julia Senecal

Julia Senecal

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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