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Human-Animal-Environment Interventions in Social Work Certificate

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IHAC Comm. Team

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New Name and Revised Content for this Innovative MSW Certificate at DU

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HAEI certificate students posing for group photo at University of Denver campus

The human-animal-environment interactions in social work (HAEI-SW) certificate of specialization, formerly known as animal-assisted social work, prepares MSW students at GSSW to recognize the importance and impact of human-animal-environment interactions (HAEIs) in culturally responsive and ethically advanced professional social work practice settings. Clinical and community settings such as mental health agencies, schools, and shelters are emphasized. The certificate centers social justice and highlights intersecting systems of oppression and violence directed towards humans, animals, and the environment.

The innovative curriculum helped DU and GSSW become the first graduate-level social science program in the world to offer this unique specialization. Nearly 70 MSW students completed the certificate in academic year 2020-2021.

  • There are three courses in the certificate:

    SOWK 4795 Foundations for Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work: Foundational course with broad survey of the field and value exploration. Introduction to cultural and social justice aspects of human-animal-environment interactions. Formation of personal HAEI-SW vision and ethical framework, and beginning of culmination project concept development.

    SOWK 4796 Human-Animal-Environment Interventions in Social Work Practice: Focus on skill development for the integration of animals in social work practice with a primary focus on treatment. Exploration of clinical and community practice frameworks, across the lifespan.

    SOWK 4797 Professional Integration of Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work: Culmination course with a focus on applying knowledge and demonstrating competence through program and/or service design. Includes professional development and job search preparation unique to HAEIs in social work.

  • There is no application process involved to pursue the certificate. Students register for the first course (SOWK 4795) to start their certificate studies.

  • Courses are taken in sequence (SOWK 4795, SOWK 4796, SOWK 4797), primarily during the concentration year.

  • The certificate can be combined with any concentration at GSSW and is also designed to complement the newly revised Ecological Justice concentration (formerly SDGP) without overlapping content.

  • There is no requirement for a specialized field placement related to the certificate.

  • In addition to the required course sequence, optional 1-credit course offerings are

    available to deepen learning.

    The new certificate name and revised content further strengthens the sequence of the certificate courses and reduces any overlap, also with concentrations, reaffirms the focus on HAEIs in clinical and community-based social work practice, and centers social work actions within intersecting systems of health, wellness, oppression, and violence between humans, animals, and the environment.

Please visit the HAEI-SW Certificate main page to learn more.

About the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at GSSW:
The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) intentionally elevates the value of the living world and the interrelationship and health of people, other animals and the environment. We accomplish this through natural and social science-informed education, applied knowledge, research and advocacy, with an ethical regard for all species.