Overview of Centers and Institutes for Human-Animal Interaction in the United States

Marguerite E. O'Haire1, Jessica Bibbo1, Christy L. Hoffman2, Megan K. Mueller3, Zenithson Y. Ng4 & Virginia A. Buechner-Maxwell5

1Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, IN
2Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
3Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, North Grafton, MA
4Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville, TN
5Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Academic centers and institutes represent critical hubs for the advancement of areas of scholarly and societal interest. We conducted a survey of 16 academic centers and institutes for human-animal interaction (HAI) in the United States to systematically document the current state of academic interest and investment in the field. Areas of focus included demographics, research, engagement, and education. Results indicated a substantial growth of new centers since 1977, particularly over the past decade. Research topics focused primarily on companion animals (largely dogs, cats, and horses) and adults. Engagement efforts centered around online outreach and in-person programming, with 75% of centers providing animal-assisted intervention services. Education opportunities included degrees at the undergraduate (13%), Masters (50%), and Doctoral (25%) level with courses offered in 63% of centers. The growth and productivity of academic centers and institutes for HAI provides evidence for the growing academic influence of the burgeoning field of HAI. The infrastructure these centers provide will be essential in supporting larger-scale research projects, promoting interdisciplinary and community-based research, and educating future leaders of the field.

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Keywords: academic center, education, engagement, human-animal bond, human-animal interaction, institute, research
Posted in 2018, Volume 6, No. 3