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Graduate School of Social Work

Institute for Human-Animal Connection

The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is a center for the study of the interrelationship and health of people, animals and the environment.

New! early childhood humane education certificate

Raising Compassionate Kids: Humane Education & Interventions for Early Learners Certificate program is a comprehensive, professional development opportunity offered online through IHAC and the University of Denver.

Humane education fosters compassion, healthy choices, social-emotional growth, critical thinking skills and a sense of purpose in young children.

The first cohort begins coursework on September 18th. Apply by September 5th. Learn more about Raising Compassionate Kids.

upcoming Events                          

September 24, 2016: Global March for Elephants and Rhinos at the Colorado State Capitol Building. Join the worldwide movement to advocate for a total ban on the ivory trade. Learn more here.

October 19, 2016: Steven Wise, JD, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., will speak at the University of Denver, co-hosted by IHAC and the Sturm College of Law. Details coming soon!

January 27, 2017: Martha Nussbaum, PhD, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department of the University of Chicago, will speak at the University of Denver, co-hosted by IHAC and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. More details to come.

April 28-29, 2017: IHAC is proud to be a partner of the Human-Animal Interaction Conference, Building Connections: Children, Animals and Healthy Families at Green Chimneys in Brewster, New York. Learn more and register here.


  • Watch IHAC"s very own Philip Tedeschi and Sarah Bexell talk about IHAC's latest work as Nathaniel steals the show on Colorado and Company. 

  • IHAC hosted its second Practitioners Conference, Animals on the Mind: Social Neurobiology of Human-Animal Interactions in Research and Practice on May 12-13, 2016. This conference focused on the applications and research of animal-assisted interventions specific to social neuroscience in areas such as: autism spectrum disorders, mental health treatment and variants of exposure to animals across the lifespan.

  • Press Release: Equine-Assisted Mental Health at University of Denver - New Program Starts in 2015. Download the full press release here.
  • Summer 2015: IHAC welcomes Nina Ekholm Fry as the Director of Equine Programs! Nina leads the new Equine Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate program- learn more

  • IHAC partnered with Green Chimneys in hosting the 2015 Human-Animal Interaction conference in Brewster, New York. Learn more and download the conference summary here.

  • New evidence is always emerging regarding the significance of the human-animal bond. A new study suggests that companion animals may prove to be a helpful addition to treatment programs designed to help children with ASDs improve their social skills and interactions with other people.

  • Read about Marc Beckoff's work teaching animal behavior in the Boulder County Jail here

  • Take action to save wildlife! Measure and find out how you can reduce your ecological impact using the Global Footprint Network's Footprint Calculator here. SIgn the petition banning the sale of ivory in the state of Colorado here

  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison did a special alumni piece on IHAC's Executive Director, Philip Tedeschi. Read the full article here.

  • IHAC, Chuck & Don's and Animal-Assisted Social Work students highlighted on local news! See the Fox News story here.

  • University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work students organize animal-assisted stress relief event at DU Law School. See the 9News story here.

  • Chuck & Don's donates $23k to IHAC for new safe shelter program for pets.

  • Executive Director Philip Tedeschi discusses human-animal relationships on the radio show Our Wild World. Listen to the full interview

  • IHAC successfully hosted its first Practitioners Conference, Transforming Trauma: Research Developments and Methods for Trauma-Informed Animal Assisted Interventions, on May 7 and 8, 2014.