Kharkov bioethics course makes a difference
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
KHARKOV, Ukraine–Humane educators have been wondering ever
since Massachusetts SPCA founder George Angell introduced the first
humane curriculum more than 100 years ago whether the results of
their teaching can be effectively measured.
Olga Ivanova Tolstova, founding chair of the Bioethics
Centre at the Kharkov Zoological & Veterinary Academy in the Ukraine,
believes she and her fellow faculty members have developed evidence
that encouraging students to think about the ethics of animal use
makes a profound difference.
Like a growing number of universities in the U.S. and Europe,
Kharkov Zoological & Veterinary Academy requires students to take a
At the start of the course the instructors ask students to
rate on a scale of one to five whether 16 common human uses of
animals are cruel, and whether they are acceptable. The uses
include whaling, biomedical research and testing, purebred dog
breeding, keeping hens to lay eggs, fishing, fur farming, keeping
a pet dog, cosmetics testing, factory farming, hunting, trapping,
keeping a pet parrot, operating a pet shop, bullfighting,
zoological exhibition, and keeping a sick or injured deer in a
Keeping deer in a sanctuary is among the activities of the
academy, and most of the other uses involve topics that Ukrainian
zoologists and veterinarians may encounter in their work.
Initially, 75% of the students believe that 12 of the 16
uses of animals are acceptable, Tolstova told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Only
bullfighting, trapping, biomedical research, and cosmetics testing
are generally seen as cruel.
At the conclusion of the course the students are asked to
evaluate the common uses of animals again. Then, Tolstova said,
82% consider 12 of the 16 uses of animals to be unacceptable. The
four uses considered most acceptable, she said, are keeping a pet
dog, keeping a pet parrot, zoological exhibition, and keeping hens
to lay eggs.