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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 collaboration with The Right horse initiative

The Institute for Human-Animal Connection is working with The Right Horse Initiative to promote the bond between horses and humans. Each year, hundreds of thousands of horses are transitioned from career or ownership. A growing number of these horses end up at risk of inhumane treatment. The Right Horse Initiative, led by the WaterShed Animal Fund, consists of industry professionals and equine welfare experts working together to improve the lives of horses in transition and to promote equine adoption through education, training, and public awareness on a national level.

upcoming Events                         

April 28-29, 2017: Building Connections: Children, Animals and Healthy Families

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.


  • IHAC hosted Martha C. Nussbuam on January 30, 2017 for an illuminating talk entitled, "Animal Rights and the Capabilities Approach: A Radical Alternative to Anthropocentrism". Thank you to our co-hosts, Sturm College of Law and Friends of Animals. Gratitude and recognition is also extended to Chuck & Don's, for their generous support and sponsorship of this event.

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

  • Watch IHAC"s very own Philip Tedeschi and Sarah Bexell talk about IHAC's latest work as canine companion 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.