Speakers Series

The Canisius College Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations is proud to bring prestigious speakers to campus to make presentations on topics related to animal/wildlife advocacy.

Stephan Zawistowski
Executive Vice-President ASPCA
Pet Therapy:  Who Benefits and What Are the Risks
February 18, 2010

Dr. Zawistowski is a world-renown expert on mankind’s relationships with animals.  He is often in the news advancing sound reasoning and ethical behavior wherever animal welfare issues are at stake.  He authored the ground-breaking text Companion Animals and Society, and is co-founder of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

Dr. Zawistowski lead a discussion of the ways in which people use animals to assist in therapeutic treatments of humans (e.g., pet-assisted therapy, service animals for handicapped, etc.).  His presentation included lessons learned from past experiences and an overview of the ethical challenges inherent in this type of human-animal interactions.

View and download a copy of Dr. Zawistowski’s slides.

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE
The Jane Goodall Institute; UN Messenger of Peace
Gombe and Beyond: The Next Fifty Years
April 14, 2010

Jane Goodall visited our campus on April 14, 2010 in order to meet with the Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation, and to deliver a public address to thousands of individuals.

She has been the subject of numerous television documentaries and is featured in the largescreen format film Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (2002). She also has been featured in five Animal Planet specials — Jane Goodall’s Return to GombeJane Goodall’s State of the Great ApeJane Goodall’s HeroesWhen Animals Talk and most recently, Almost Human.


Jessica Whitham
Chicago Zoological Society
Using Intuition, Hunches and Score Sheets to Improve Animal Welfare at Zoos and Aquariums
October 14, 2010

Dr. Jessica Whitham conducted an interactive workshop that showed the critical role that zookeepers, and other informed observers, can play in developing research questions designed to improve animal welfare in zoos and aquariums. Starting with examples of past projects that have already been carried out successfully, Dr. Whitham helped workshop participants translate their own insights and hunches into testable questions and actionable projects. The theme was one of empowering the audience with the skills necessary to objectively document and improve animal welfare.


Edward Spera
Spera Art Gallery, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wildlife Art:  The Art of Conservation
February 10, 2011

This symposium focuses upon the roles that art and artists can play in wildlife conservation. Edward Spera discusses worldwide travel to observe animals in their natural habitats. The importance of interacting with and benefiting local people is stressed, as is the importance of raising awareness among patrons of the arts.


Temple Grandin
Colorado State University
Animal Behavior, Autism, and Sensory Based Thinking
April 20, 2011

Temple Grandin, PhD, is a world-famous animal scientist who has worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare in the food industry. The author of six best-selling books, she advocates sensory-based thinking as a means to better understand and relate to animals.  Dr. Grandin is also renown as the most accomplished adult with autism in the world. She has recently been included in the Time Magazine annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and her fascinating life has been depicted in an award winning HBO film production. In addition to her work with animals, Dr. Grandin has become a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism. She presents herself as living proof that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. Her work continues to inspire millions, and her presentations draw superlative reviews.


James C. Ha
University of Washington
The Use of Primates in Biomedical Research:  A Personal Perspective
September 9, 2011

In an enlightening seminar, Dr. Ha reviewed some of the benefits that have derived from using primates in biomedical research in the past, and he presented an overview of the challenges, costs, and benefits pertaining to primate-based research in modern times.  He reviewed trends in regulatory oversight, public opinion, and research refinement, and he provided predictions for the phasing out of primate use in the future.  He encouraged the audience members to become engaged in this important topic and to help steer policies pertaining to animal use in the future.  

Stephanie LaFarge
ASPCA Counseling Services
Project Nim:  A Personal Perspective
January 20, 2012

In a two part seminar, Dr. LaFarge first provided a viewing of the award-winning fim “Project Nim” – a documentary that reviews the history of a former research project in which a Columbia University team (including, then graduate student, LaFarge) attempted to teach sign language to a chimpanzee. Dr. LaFarge then critically reviewed her own contributions to the project, and provided the perspectives she has gained on this work, now looking back across the decades.  In a remarkably insightful conversation, Dr. LaFarge and the audience drew lessons that extended beyond this one particular project to reflections on humankind’s relationships with all other animal species. 

Wayne Pacelle
The Humane Society of the United States
A History of Animal Cruelty and the Human-Animal Bond, and the Modern-Day Efforts to Build a New Humane Economy
September 7, 2012

Animals have always played a central role in the human story, and how we have interacted with them – from the dawn of the era of hunting and gathering, through the age of domestication and animal sacrifice, and into the modern era of pet-keeping and industrialized agriculture – has defined our living patterns and daily experiences.

Today, we are at an odd moment in that story. There are more manifestations of love and fascination for animals than ever before, but there is also so much cruelty and exploitation, occurring on a vast scale, with enterprises such as factory farming and the legal and illegal trade in wildlife producing suffering and death to billions of creatures every year.

Wayne Pacelle talks about how we, as individuals and as a society, must disentangle this human-animal relationship, shed normalized forms of animal exploitation, and build a new humane economy.  A conscious concern for animals is a necessary feature of our moral progress and our economic success, and that a greater quotient of decency to animals is one of the building blocks of a civil society.