FGCU event to inform students about ‘Humane Academics’

As the old adage says, “When the cat is away, it’s probably because he’s cheating on his family.” Or at least, that’s what the research shows. Wildlife biologist Kerrie Anne Loyd from Arizona State University has done research with the University of Georgia and National Geographic on domestic cats. When 55 cats each had “kitty cams” attached to their collars, it was discovered that some cats were leaving their houses and visiting houses down the road to be fed, pet, and treated like family — essentially “cheating” on their real households.
On Feb. 5-7, Loyd will be among more than 20 scientists, professors and students speaking on a variety of animal and humanitarian topics at Florida Gulf Coast University’s fi rst Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Symposium. Scientists and professors from the HSUS, Duke University, Colorado State University and more will be presenting on such topics as “Animals, Public Policy and Higher Education,” “Animal Assisted Interventions” and “Ethical Solutions for Animal Research Outside the Lab.” The theme of the lectures, sponsored by HSUS and the FGCU Honors Program, is “The Humane University.”
Graduate student Ariel Chomey thinks that this theme will appeal to a lot of students. “The kind of overarching goal is to bring people from a variety of fi elds to talk about what humane education is and how we can have it in a higher education setting,” said Chomey, who will speak at the event on the fi rst day. Chomey is going to give a talk entitled “The Infl uential Pet,” in which she will speak about her current research. “We tend to think of pets as cute and fuzzy, but they may actually be changing how we interact with the environment,” Chomey said.
Chomey is not the only FGCU representative who will be speaking. Students will speak every day, including students from the “Trails for Tails” and “Animals and Ethics” classes. FGCU professors, including Nicola Foote, Charles Gunnels, Michelle Hayford and Tunde Szecsi, will also present their research.
Foote and Gunnels will present their fi ndings on “Historical Zoology”, based on their 2012 visit to the Galapagos Islands, on the second day of the symposium. “What makes this really kind of exciting is it’s so diverse,” Gunnels said. “Humane academics includes the use and ability of animal research in things like education, philosophy, literature, even our history. What you have in this community is a way beyond the sciences.” Honors Program director Sean Kelly thinks that this symposium is an important event for students of all majors, not just students hoping to pursue animal research. “Stephanie Itle-Clark is in education. Aubrey Fine is in occupational therapy. They will both be presenting … this is a good chance to meet with the professionals in your fi eld.” “If you even fi nd animals remotely interesting, this will be really cool,” Kelly said.
The “opening remarks” will take place on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. in the main gallery of the Arts Complex.
On Thursday, talks will take place from 11-5:30 p.m. in Cohen Center 247. These talks will cover the topics of “Humane Education,” “Animals and the University” and “Humane Education within the University.”
Friday will have talks from 9-12:30 p.m. covering “Working with Animals” and “Studying Animals” in Cohen 247.
Kelly expects this symposium to generate student initiatives.
Students in his “Animals and Ethics” class, for example, are going to look at whether the sites students volunteer at are ethical in their treatment of animals. “We want to make sure if we’re sending you to a place, it’s ethical,” Kelly said.
Photo courtesy of the Humane Society
Dr. Evan MacLean, a senior research scientist from Duke University, will be
presenting alternative methods of studying wildlife.