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Institute for Human-Animal Connection

Institute for Human-Animal Connection


The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is leading the way in animal-assisted social work and human-animal interaction education and professional development. University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work remains one of the only programs in the world to offer specialization in human-animal interactions alongside a graduate level social science degree.

Historical Timeline of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection

  • 1996: In response to suggestions by students and alumni interested in exploring human-animal interactions, Clinical Professor Philip Tedeschi taught the first course in animal-assisted social work to Master of Social Work (MSW) students at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW).
  • 2002: University of Denver graduate Will George Neahr left part of his estate to GSSW to support the development of human-animal interactional study. This funding enabled Tedeschi to develop the Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate within GSSW's Master of Social Work (MSW) program.
  • 2005: Animal Assistance Foundation and American Humane Association provided grants allowing co-founders Tedeschi and Jennifer Fitchett to open IHAC, identify specialized internship sites for AASW Certificate students and launch the Animals and Human Health online professional development program for non-MSW students.
  • 2009: Professor Frank R. Ascione was appointed the American Humane Endowed Chair. The position was created from a partnership between the American Humane Association and the University of Denver. Ascione's work conducts research on child and adolescent exposure to animal abuse and domestic violence.
  • 2011: IHAC received a grant from Animal Assistance Foundation to examine and improve Colorado's efforts to address animal maltreatment and its relation to domestic violence. This led to the development of the Colorado LINK Project.
  • 2013: Professor Andreas Rechkemmer was appointed American Humane Endowed Chair at GSSW. His academic and research interests are global, sustainable development, social-ecological justice and the One Health paradigm. Also in 2013, Tedeschi was appointed Executive Director of IHAC.