Embedding animal-inclusive content into social work education


  • Lisa Gant Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
  • Letitia Meadows


social work education, animal-inclusive practice, human-animal relations


This teaching note discusses the progress that has been made from reflecting on innovative social work student placements with animals (see Author et al., 2020) to embedding animal-inclusive content into existing social work courses at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) – a tertiary education provider at the top of the South Island in Aotearoa New Zealand.  A collaboration between NMIT and The Nelson Ark, where the focus of work is animal assisted intervention (AAI) with youth, has advanced three accumulative animal-inclusive teaching sessions for Bachelor of Social Work students across the final three years of the four-year degree. With this background, the authors acknowledge that the inclusion of animals in social work research and practice is gaining traction. Yet, attention to human-animal relations remains on the periphery of the conventional social work curriculum and student learning experience. By turning our focus to social work placements, we developed a fresh appreciation of human-animal relations, and we propose that both field education and class-based course content about animal-inclusive practice affords valuable pedagogy. Accordingly, this teaching note shares the background, progress and next steps in the development of animal-inclusive course content.


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