Published: March 9, 2018

The University of Colorado Boulder has joined more than two dozen colleges and universities worldwide that offer majors, minors or certificate programs in animals and society, which is also known as animal studies.

The new animals and society certificate builds on increasing interest in how animals matter in human lives and vice versa. “By definition, the animals and society certificate embodies the stated mission of the college ‘to preserve, interpret and convey humane values and learning,’” said Leslie Irvine, professor of sociology and director of the certificate program.


Leslie Irvine

The certificate requires 18 credits through three main areas: courses to meet core requirements, electives and an internship. The requirements emphasize the social sciences and humanities, but include elective options in the natural sciences, Irvine said.

The interdisciplinary approach will help students explore human-animal relationships, ethical and moral concerns about animals, and the significance of animals in human evolution, history, art, literature and civilization.

The certificate is “especially practical” for students who would like to pursue careers or interests related to wild or domesticated animals, but do not wish to become biologists, zoologists or veterinarians, she added, citing examples of career options including:

  • Development, management, policy work, research, outreach, marketing, lobbying, or other work in animal protection or environmental organizations;
  • Administrative, fundraising, marketing, or outreach jobs at animal shelters or zoos;
  • Humane or environmental education;
  • Jobs with government agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture, the Fisheries and Wildlife Service, or others;
  • Animal-assisted therapy (with a master’s degree in social work);
  • Wildlife rehabilitation; or
  • Humane law enforcement.

Students might also pursue graduate degrees in human-animal studies, anthrozoology, animal law or related fields.

Faculty associated with the new certificate include Irvine, Thomas Andrews of history, Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield of French and Italian, Joanna Lambert of anthropology and Alastair Norcross of philosophy.

For more information, or to apply to the Certificate in Animals and Society, contact Irvine at