Humane Society University is pretty much amazing. Founded by the Humane Society of the United States, this mostly online university actually offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of animal studies areas. What’s more, even if you are not seeking a degree, but are planning to enhance your skills in your animal-related career, or, perhaps switch over from a non-animal related job to finally do your life’s work full-time, or, best of all, stay where you are right now in your career, but do everything you can to incorporate changing the world into your life, the continuing education program can give you the depth of knowledge and skills that you need to get started.
HSU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers Bachelor of Science, Graduate Certificates and Master of Science degrees in three areas of concentration: The first, Animal Policy and Advocacy, is based in the study of social movements, public policy, and public administration as they relate to “attitudes, policies, and practices related to animals.” The second, Animal Studies, is “designed to give students a firm understanding of the scientific, ethical, and cultural bases for animal protection.” Finally, Humane Leadership “emphasizes effective, ethical and compassionate services within animal-related professions.” No matter what the area of concentration, the course offerings are outstanding. Imagine attending a school where you can take things like: Farm Animal Welfare; Animals, Advocacy and Corporate Change; Animals in Literature; Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence, etc., etc., etc.
In the Continuing Education arena, HSU offers single courses as well as Professional Specialist Programs made up of several courses in a particular area, including Advocacy Management, Shelter Adoption Success, and Volunteer Management. Among some of the courses available are: Stop Puppy Mills: Advocating for Change, Animal Protection as a Social Movement or, an upcoming “hybrid” course that can be taken in person as well as online, Global Animal Issues.
HSU accepts applications for admission on a rolling basis. Registration for the Fall, 2012 term ends on August 16. It also has a Youth Center for those not ready for the University, and a Career Center for those who are on the other side of their educational experience.
One caveat. Since HSU is new, it is not yet accredited. Though accreditation is currently being sought, still, if you are seeking a degree so that you can go out into the world and seek a new job, it has to be taken into account that employers may look at that lack of accreditation in evaluating the importance of your degree. On the other hand, the kind of employers you are interested in may in fact be pleased to find prospective employees who took this unprecedented opportunity to focus so intensively on the one area that they need their staff to understand inside and out. And if you are already in an animal-related job, or have no interest in a career change, and just want to hone your skills and advance your knowledge, the current lack of official accreditation should not be a substantial problem for you.
One other caveat. Since this university is run by the Humane Society of the United States, which is an organization that takes many different positions on various topics, you may be thinking that if you don’t agree with HSUS about everything, you shouldn’t consider this. I think that would be foolish. An educational experience is meant to provide you with information and open your mind, not to indoctrinate you. What HSUS has created here has the potential to bring an unprecedented level of professionalism to animal protection, animal rights, and to the enormous work we all need to be undertaking in order to change the world. I hope that it’s a huge success.