Animal Ethics’s 2020 activities plan

Cross-posted from here.

Our main lines of work in 2020

An­i­mal Ethics’s mis­sion is to ed­u­cate and in­fluence the gen­eral pub­lic and so­ciety, in par­tic­u­lar aca­demics and an­i­mal ad­vo­cates, to re­ject speciesism and show greater re­spect to­wards all sen­tient be­ings. We also re­search the ways non­hu­man an­i­mals can be pos­i­tively and nega­tively af­fected in sig­nifi­cant ways by nat­u­ral and an­thro­pogenic harms. Be­cause of the scale and ne­glect­ed­ness of wild an­i­mal suffer­ing, we fo­cus es­pe­cially in this area.

Dur­ing our ini­tial years of ac­tivity, we con­cen­trated on rais­ing aware­ness about wild an­i­mals and speciesism among differ­ent au­di­ences, es­pe­cially in academia, in differ­ent parts of the world. We later shifted our efforts to also fo­cus on pro­mot­ing more aca­demic work on wild an­i­mal welfare.

The ac­cu­mu­lated work and ex­pe­rience of pre­vi­ous years has made it pos­si­ble for us to ex­pect that in 2020 our im­pact in these two ar­eas will be much greater than ever be­fore. We also ex­pect to reach new places where work of this kind hasn’t been done be­fore. Below are the main ways we will work in 2020 to achieve this.

1. Pro­mote work in welfare biology

· Aca­demic re­search on welfare biol­ogy funded by An­i­mal Ethics

· Pub­lish the re­sults of sev­eral stud­ies on how to best es­tab­lish welfare biology

· Re­search on rele­vant is­sues in welfare biology

2. Ca­pac­ity build­ing and out­reach in wild an­i­mal advocacy

· An on­line video course about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing advocacy

· A book based on the con­tents of the course

· The au­dio ver­sions and trans­la­tions of our wild an­i­mal suffer­ing materials

3. Ex­pand our work internationally

· Start work­ing in India

· Re­search on how to work in China

· Ex­pand our work in Brazil and other coun­tries in Latin America

· In­crease our in­ter­na­tional work online

4. Carry out other ed­u­ca­tional work

· Up­date and im­prove our con­tent about sen­tience and an­i­mal ethics

· Other out­reach efforts

1. Pro­mot­ing work in welfare biology

To con­tinue our efforts to pro­mote the es­tab­lish­ment of welfare biol­ogy as a new field of re­search, we will pub­lish the re­sults of sev­eral uni­ver­sity re­search pro­jects that we’re fund­ing and sev­eral stud­ies we con­ducted about how to best get en­courage other sci­en­tists to work in this field. We will also pub­lish other re­search rele­vant to welfare biol­ogy.

1.1. Aca­demic re­search on welfare biol­ogy funded by An­i­mal Ethics

We will pub­lish the re­sults of the fol­low­ing stud­ies:

· A re­search pro­ject on a frame­work to aid welfare-based de­ci­sion-mak­ing for the benefit of stranded whales, cur­rently be­ing car­ried out by the Marine Re­search Group, based at Massey Univer­sity, New Zealand

· A study of the situ­a­tion of wild an­i­mals in for­est fires and how to help, cur­rently be­ing car­ried out by a post­doc re­searcher at the Au­tonomous Univer­sity of Madrid, Spain

· A study of the causes of harm to wild an­i­mals in Canada, cur­rently be­ing car­ried out by an­other post­doc re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Guelph, Canada

· A short study as­sess­ing the ex­ist­ing meth­ods to help an­i­mals in floods by a mas­ter’s stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Barcelona

Th­ese pro­jects were cho­sen for sev­eral rea­sons. Not only do they provide in­for­ma­tion about cir­cum­stances that are im­por­tant to the wellbe­ing of many wild an­i­mals; they also have the po­ten­tial to in­form poli­cies that could help wild an­i­mals, and they as­sess top­ics that both sci­en­tists and the gen­eral pub­lic sup­port and find in­ter­est­ing. For these rea­sons, they have been cho­sen es­pe­cially be­cause of their high po­ten­tial to pro­mote fur­ther aca­demic work.

1.2. Pub­lish the re­sults of sev­eral stud­ies on how to best es­tab­lish welfare biology

This year we will also pub­lish the re­sults of three com­pleted re­search pro­jects on how to pro­mote work on welfare biol­ogy in academia. They are the fol­low­ing:

· A gen­eral study about how to es­tab­lish a new field of re­search in academia, es­pe­cially within nat­u­ral sciences

· A qual­i­ta­tive study, us­ing in­ter­views, of the at­ti­tudes of sci­en­tists to­wards differ­ent ways of helping an­i­mals in the wild and on op­por­tu­ni­ties and bar­ri­ers for re­search on wild an­i­mal welfare

· A quan­ti­ta­tive study, us­ing a sur­vey, of the at­ti­tudes of sci­en­tists and stu­dents to­wards the same topics

Th­ese stud­ies will help guide those who want to pro­mote aca­demic work in this field.

1.3. Re­search on rele­vant is­sues in welfare biology

We will also pub­lish the re­sults of these stud­ies:

· A study of the causes of harm to wild an­i­mals in Greece. This work, which will com­ple­ment the study we’re fund­ing in Canada, will help to provide a more gen­eral un­der­stand­ing of the com­mon causes of wild an­i­mal suffer­ing.

· Work on pop­u­la­tion con­trol for her­bivores that can be prac­ti­cally ap­plied now. This work could in­form poli­cies in wildlife man­age­ment in par­tic­u­lar cases that can help an­i­mals in the very near fu­ture.

· Fur­ther re­search on ur­ban welfare biol­ogy. Work on im­prov­ing the wellbe­ing of wild an­i­mals liv­ing in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments while solv­ing po­ten­tial con­flicts with hu­mans is among the most promis­ing ones in this field, be­cause it has high lev­els of sup­port and can be done more eas­ily than work in the wild. In ad­di­tion to con­tribut­ing to helping ur­ban an­i­mals, much of what is learned will ap­ply to wild an­i­mals liv­ing in other ar­eas. We have already done some in­tro­duc­tory work on this topic. We will now do more work as­sess­ing par­tic­u­lar cases of some an­i­mals com­mon in ur­ban ar­eas.

· Work on the le­gal situ­a­tion of an­i­mals, with a fo­cus on those liv­ing in the wild. This work will help us un­der­stand the le­gal ba­sis from which poli­cies im­prov­ing the wellbe­ing of an­i­mals can cur­rently be pur­sued, and es­pe­cially what le­gal im­ped­i­ments cur­rently ex­ist.

We will also be in con­tact with peo­ple from other or­ga­ni­za­tions to col­lab­o­rate where pos­si­ble on the differ­ent ini­ti­a­tives to pro­mote welfare biol­ogy.

2. Ca­pac­ity build­ing and out­reach in wild an­i­mal advocacy

There are still many an­i­mal ad­vo­cates who are not aware that wild an­i­mal suffer­ing is such an im­por­tant is­sue. How­ever, there’s an in­creas­ing num­ber of oth­ers, in­clud­ing those in an­i­mal or­ga­ni­za­tions, who are con­cerned about this prob­lem but don’t have much idea how work to help wild an­i­mals can be done. Others even think this is an in­tractable cause. As a re­sult, only a few peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions have been in­volved in work­ing for these an­i­mals. The in­crease in re­cent years in the num­ber of peo­ple con­cerned about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing has not been re­flected in a pro­por­tional rise in the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing in this area. We think that growth is be­ing im­peded by a lack of in­for­ma­tion by po­ten­tial sup­port­ers about how to carry out wild an­i­mal suffer­ing ad­vo­cacy.

To help to solve this, in 2019 we im­proved and ex­panded our on­line ma­te­ri­als about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing, helping wild an­i­mals, and welfare biol­ogy, in­clud­ing new con­tent about what the lives of an­i­mals in the wild are like and what can be done to im­prove them. In 2020, we will go be­yond this, by pro­vid­ing more ac­cessible tools and by pro­vid­ing more spe­cific ideas and guidelines about how to work in this area. We will do this by pub­lish­ing the re­sources listed be­low.

2.1. An on­line video course about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing advocacy

This course will be available for free. It will in­clude in to­tal 28 short videos grouped into three mod­ules, about (1) wild an­i­mal suffer­ing and what can be done about it, (2) the ar­gu­ments about the moral con­sid­er­a­tion of an­i­mals, and (3) what we know thus far about how to best pro­mote welfare biol­ogy.

2.2. A book based on the con­tents of the course

This book, which will be over 200 pages long, will be available as an ebook to be down­loaded for free. It will in­clude the in­for­ma­tion from this course in the form of a guide to wild an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy.

2.3. The au­dio ver­sions and trans­la­tions of our wild an­i­mal suffer­ing materials

We will also pub­lish the au­dio ver­sions of all the wild an­i­mal suffer­ing con­tents of our web­site (over 20 ar­ti­cles). In ad­di­tion, we will pub­lish the par­tial or com­plete trans­la­tions of our wild an­i­mal suffer­ing ar­ti­cles into other lan­guages, in­clud­ing at least French, Span­ish, and Por­tuguese.

Th­ese ma­te­ri­als will help to make it pos­si­ble for the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing on this topic to ex­pand sig­nifi­cantly, pro­por­tionate to the num­ber of an­i­mal ad­vo­cates con­cerned about it. In this way, we aim to lev­er­age our in­vest­ment in this area of work. In ad­di­tion, these ma­te­ri­als will help to raise aware­ness among other peo­ple about the im­por­tance of the situ­a­tion of wild an­i­mals.

3. Ex­pand our work internationally

One of the main goals of An­i­mal Ethics has been to ex­pand con­cern about an­i­mals, es­pe­cially wild ones, wor­ld­wide, to the ex­tent that we are able to, work­ing in many differ­ent lan­guages and car­ry­ing out ac­tivi­ties in differ­ent coun­tries. In 2020, we will con­tinue to give talks and do other ac­tivi­ties in coun­tries where we have been ac­tive, es­pe­cially the USA and Europe, where we’ll try to or­ga­nize ac­tivi­ties in new places. In ad­di­tion to this, we plan to ex­pand more in­ter­na­tion­ally. We will do this in four ways: work­ing in In­dia, pub­lish­ing the re­sults of a study about how to carry out an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy work in China, fur­ther de­vel­op­ing our work in Brazil and other coun­tries in Latin Amer­ica, and in­creas­ing our in­ter­na­tional work online

3.1. Start work­ing in India

With a pop­u­la­tion over 1.4 billion peo­ple, In­dia is the coun­try with the sec­ond largest pop­u­la­tion, and it is ex­pected to have the largest pop­u­la­tion in sev­eral years. Its pop­u­la­tion is still mostly young, with the av­er­age age un­der 30. In ad­di­tion, it is cur­rently mov­ing to­wards be­com­ing the world’s fifth largest econ­omy.

More­over, In­dia has sig­nifi­cant po­ten­tial in terms of the growth of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, be­cause of its long tra­di­tion of re­spect for non­hu­man an­i­mals in cer­tain re­gions, in­grained in many of its cul­tural traits.

In 2017 and 2018, we car­ried out tours of talks in sev­eral coun­tries, reach­ing mainly uni­ver­sity stu­dents, in­clud­ing the USA, Mex­ico, Brazil, and Spain, giv­ing in to­tal close to 50 talks. In 2020, we will also start our work in In­dia with a se­ries of talks at uni­ver­si­ties, with a fo­cus on speciesism and wild an­i­mal suffer­ing. We will also dis­tribute ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als about these is­sues at In­dian uni­ver­si­ties, and will make some of our ed­u­ca­tional texts available in Hindi. In ad­di­tion, we’ll net­work and col­lab­o­rate with other lo­cal In­dian an­i­mal or­ga­ni­za­tions.

3.2. Re­search on how to work in China

China is an ex­tremely im­por­tant coun­try for an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy for sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing its huge pop­u­la­tion (the world’s largest at the mo­ment), its be­ing the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy, and the fu­ture in­fluence China will likely have on the rest of the world.

Back in 2018, we were op­ti­mistic con­cern­ing our chances of work­ing in China. At that point, we had already launched the ver­sion of our web­site in Chi­nese and had our ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als ready. But, in­stead of try­ing to start to work there im­me­di­ately, we de­cided to first re­search how to best do so.

We have learned since then that the spe­cial cir­cum­stances ex­ist­ing in China make it much more difficult than it may seem to be suc­cess­ful in work­ing there. This is not only be­cause of the cul­tural con­ven­tions, but also, es­pe­cially, be­cause of the very se­ri­ous gov­ern­men­tal con­di­tions and re­stric­tions on do­ing so. Mak­ing a mis­take in this re­gard can mean not just that an or­ga­ni­za­tion may be banned from work­ing in China, but also that it can jeop­ar­dize the work of other or­ga­ni­za­tions and ac­tivists. Due to this, we have paused pro­jects there un­til we know we can do so ap­pro­pri­ately. In 2020, we will pub­lish the re­sults of the re­search we have done about this, which in­cludes in­ter­views with ex­perts and a liter­a­ture re­view.

3.3. Ex­pand our work in Brazil and other coun­tries in Latin America

We plan to pub­lish a large amount of ma­te­rial in Por­tuguese (in­clud­ing the wild an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy ca­pac­ity build­ing course and book). We will also in­crease our aca­demic ac­tivi­ties in uni­ver­si­ties in Brazil. In pre­vi­ous years, we have taught offi­cially rec­og­nized sem­i­nars and a short course at the Fed­eral Univer­sity of Espirito Santo and the Fed­eral Univer­sity of Santa Cata­rina. We plan to con­tinue and to ex­pand these ini­ti­a­tives.

In ad­di­tion, our rep­re­sen­ta­tives will carry out sem­i­nars and talks out­side Brazil in Latin Amer­ica. We have done so in pre­vi­ous years in differ­ent coun­tries. In 2020, we plan to do it in Ar­gentina and Uruguay.

3.4. In­crease our in­ter­na­tional work online

Our web­site is available in eight lan­guages: English, Span­ish, Ger­man, Por­tuguese, Chi­nese, French, Pol­ish, and Ital­ian. We will con­tinue our trans­la­tion efforts be­cause we cur­rently see a lack of at­ten­tion to mak­ing this kind of in­for­ma­tion available in differ­ent lan­guages. We are not aware of other an­i­mal or­ga­ni­za­tions that have ex­ten­sive con­tent available in all these lan­guages. How­ever, most peo­ple, in­clud­ing of course an­i­mal ad­vo­cates, don’t speak English.

In 2020, we ex­pect to pub­lish much more ma­te­rial in new lan­guages, es­pe­cially in Rus­sian and Hindi. This work is in most cases done by vol­un­teers, which means that progress is de­pen­dent mostly on the availa­bil­ity of pro bono trans­la­tors and ed­i­tors. Due to this, the pub­li­ca­tion of a new trans­la­tion of our web­site is usu­ally a long term pro­ject.

4. Carry out other ed­u­ca­tional work

De­spite our fo­cus on wild an­i­mal suffer­ing, we are a gen­eral an­i­mal or­ga­ni­za­tion, and do work in other ar­eas of con­cern. This year we plan to carry out the fol­low­ing work com­ple­ment­ing what is men­tioned above.

4.1. Up­date and im­prove our con­tent about sen­tience and an­i­mal ethics

We plan to up­date and ex­pand our web­site sec­tions about sen­tience and about ethics and an­i­mals, some of which are among the most vis­ited pages on our web­site. We have seen that while there are some other sources of in­for­ma­tion about these is­sues, they tend to be ei­ther im­pre­cise or not very in depth, or else too ad­vanced for peo­ple who just want an in­tro­duc­tion to the is­sues. Our ma­te­ri­als are in­tended to cover the space in be­tween, by pro­vid­ing clear and sub­stan­tial in­tro­duc­tions to these is­sues. We will trans­late the up­dated texts to other lan­guages in ad­di­tion to English.

We will also cre­ate au­dio ver­sions of them. Plus, the part about an­i­mals and ethics will be com­ple­mented with the on­line video course about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing, which in­cludes a whole mod­ule re­lated this topic.

4.2. Other out­reach efforts

Even though our fo­cus in 2020 will be to work on the top­ics men­tioned above, we will also oc­ca­sion­ally pub­lish work on other top­ics re­lated to speciesism. Right now we have about 1,300 pub­li­ca­tions in to­tal in our web­site (in­clud­ing all lan­guages). In 2020, we plan to reach 1,400 pub­li­ca­tions.

In so­cial me­dia, we will con­tinue our policy of com­bin­ing our in­ten­tion to reach a broad au­di­ence with our valu­ing the qual­ity of our pub­li­ca­tions over the quan­tity of them, and of send­ing traf­fic to our web­site. We will make an effort to use so­cial me­dia to spread our ca­pac­ity build­ing ma­te­ri­als about wild an­i­mal suffer­ing. Also, a por­tion of our pub­li­ca­tions in English will be tar­get­ing our fol­low­ers in In­dia.

Fi­nally, we will con­tinue to help lo­cal and grass­roots an­i­mal ad­vo­cates to carry out their work by pro­vid­ing them with ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als they can use freely in their own work. Th­ese ma­te­ri­als are available in seven differ­ent lan­guages. We can provide them eas­ily and at a small cost of re­sources, sav­ing these ac­tivists a lot of effort that would oth­er­wise re­duce their ca­pac­ity to work. In this way, we in­crease the ag­gre­gate cost-effec­tive­ness of the an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy com­mu­nity as a whole, and we also spread and en­courage the in­clu­sion of con­cern for wild an­i­mal suffer­ing and a cri­tique of speciesism.

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