Do your Share – Animal Research Education

School visits about animal research have usually been the domain of animal rights groups like HSUS and PETA, however a new program is set to challenge that. Scott Dobrin and Elizabeth Burnett, with the support of Americans for Medical Progress’ Michael D. Hayre Fellowship, have built a program for schools which aims to address the misinformation put about by animal rights organisations. Welcome to SHARE – Speaking Honestly – Animal Research Education. When I asked them about their program they had this to say.

SHARE helps students form their own opinions on the use of animals in research though a simulated classroom discussion.  It is a teacher-led experience that can be easily carried out in any educational setting with the tools and resources we provide. SHARE is designed for young adults who are still in the process of forming their own morals and values, many of which will stay with them the rest of their lives. Initially developed for both science majors and other college students, SHARE is readily adapted for secondary school audiences.

Through SHARE, students are introduced to animal rights, animal welfare, and animal exploitist points of view. First in small groups, and later as a whole class, students discuss the issues surrounding the use of animals in research by evaluating a sample research proposal. They are asked for their own opinions as well as the concerns they believe a scientist, a veterinarian, and a member of the public would hold, all the while unknowingly acting much like an IACUC. While creating a list of approved guidelines, students see their diverse attitudes revealed in their choices of acceptable animal research rules and regulations. They then are introduced to the concept of an IACUC and come to understand the value that the research community places on animal welfare.

On our website, http://sharehappens.org , you can find all the information you need to facilitate SHARE in the classroom. In addition to logistical tips for organizing the class and teaching tips useful for engaging students, you will find an interactive and detailed lesson plan complete with keys to success, talking points, time checkpoints, and references to the appropriate slides of the included powerpoint presentation. If you need more information on the topic of animals in research, the links page has a listing of several resources, both in support of and opposed to animal research, to read more. It is a one stop shop for facilitating SHARE in the classroom.

We, at Speaking of Research, wish Scott and Elizabeth all the continued success with their program.

Cheers

Tom

5 responses to “Do your Share – Animal Research Education

  1. I personally think that it is very important for individuals to understand that each person draws a line in how they impact other organisms for their own benefit. Some draw the line by only killing colonies of organisms by bathing, brushing their teeth, and other approaches to personal hygiene. Others, forgo any use of transportation (or purchasing anything which has been transported) which kills scores of organisms. Others, modify their eating patterns to have less of an impact. We each draw this line, and it is only a matter of degree as to where we draw this line since as large mammals we impact many other organisms for own benefit and wellbeing on a daily basis. I like to frame any discussion on animal research within the context.

    It is nice to see information about SHARE getting disseminated. SHARE is based on a lesson that I am my colleagues published in a journal for pre-college science teachers called the American Biology Teacher. The paper is about the ethical care and use of animals and is aimed at the high school (or advanced middle school) level.
    Pecore, J., Demetrikopoulos, M.K., Frantz, K.J., (2007) Student-Centered Deliberations of Ethical Care and Use of Animals, The American Biology Teacher, 69(7), 416-421.
    It was selected as a feature article for BioOne and is available online.
    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1662/0002-7685%282007%2969%5B416:SDOECU%5D2.0.CO%3B2

    The two graduate students mentioned in this article, Scott Dobrin & Elizabeth Burnett, were able to obtain funding from Americans for Medical Progress through the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach to expand upon this publication. One of the outputs of this effort is a website called Speaking Honestly – Animal Research Education (SHARE) that is designed for high school teachers and college professors.

    Other resources that you may find helpful about this issue include position statements from the
    National Science Teacher Association
    http://nsta.org/about/positions/animals.aspx
    and National Association of Biology Teachers
    http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=97
    http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=105
    The National Association of Biology Teacher link has links for state specific information.

    In addition, the National Academy book entitled Science, Medicine, and Animals: Teacher’s Guide can be downloaded free
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11564

    Take care,
    Melissa

  2. I wonder if connections or partnerships have been (or could be) formed with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) or the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).

  3. Encouraging students to develop their own ethical beliefs about nonhuman animals cannot be anything but a good thing.

    There was a time–back in the days of Henry Bergh and other early humane leaders, more than a hundred years ago–when humane education in schools was actually an ethics program. Now humane education in schools has devolved into nothing but “responsible pet ownership” and the need for sterilization of dogs and cats, which are worthy subjects and goals but they fall well short of encouraging students to examine the human relationship with other animals. Local animal shelters and humane societies that conduct these programs stay far away from anything controversial because they don’t want to jeopardize their community support.

  4. Kim, Thanks for your concerns. I hope it is clear on the SHARE website – sharehappens.org – that the SHARE program comprises just one class session, in which students discuss the full spectrum of viewpoints about animals and are encourgaged to develop their own beliefs. There is absolutely no actual animal use involved.
    Respectfully,
    Jacquie

  5. I am not against science, science education, or programs such as SHARE as long as they are balanced to represent all sides of the issue and to discuss the central ethical dilemma of animal research. However, dissection of animals and invasive use of animals in middle school and high school science classes and science fairs, as well as animal use in undergraduate university classes for non-science majors has always been viewed by animal advocates as both unnecessarily cruel and destructive of animal life and a form of INhumane education–conditioning students to disrespect the lives and well-being of nonhuman animals and to adopt an instrumental view of animal life. Surely this is not the intention of the program, but please take these concerns into consideration.