Capstone Experiences

The capstone experience serves as an opportunity for students to further develop their skills, network outside of Canisius, and apply new course-based knowledge in real-life settings.  Students are carefully advised prior to and during their capstone experiences to help them choose the option that best suits their current and future needs. Students who have completed at least 27 credit hours of coursework enroll in one of three capstone experience options: 601 (Anthrozoology Internship), 602 (Quantitative Research Thesis), or 603 (Qualitative Research Thesis). 

Anthrozoology Internship (ANZ 601)

Students who wish to gain field experience and valuable workplace skills are encouraged to participate in an internship for their capstone. Sites can be chosen throughout the US and across the world, and typically include animal shelters, zoos, sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers, animal assisted therapy programs, wildlife conservation institutions, humane education programs, or non-profit organizations.

Examples of past internship locations include:

  • Alaska Zoo

  • Maryland SPCA

  • Delaware SPCA

  • Heritage Humane Society

  • The NatureKids Institute

  • Catskill Animal Sanctuary

  • and many more...

Internships can range from 3 to 9 credits, depending on the size and scope of the project.


Quantitative Research Thesis (ANZ 602)

This capstone option is for students who would like to develop and complete a 3-credit or 9-credit quantitative research project. Students develop a proposal and conduct independent research before writing a thesis. The thesis includes a literature review, description of methods, reports on the study's results, and an interpretation of the findings and contributions to the field of anthrozoology. Quantitative projects typically involve surveys, but may also employ interviews, secondary data analysis, behavioral observations, and/or experimental methods. Students who choose the 9-credit option must submit a final paper that would be suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, and they must participate in an oral defense. The 9-credit version of this capstone is typically completed over two semesters. Participation in this capstone requires completion of the Anthrozoology research methods course (ANZ 505), and typically involves an ethics review process for human participants (IRB) and/or non-human animal participants (IACUC). The quantitative thesis may be particularly beneficial for students planning to continue their graduate training in a doctoral or professional program more closely aligned with the natural sciences (such as conservation planning or wildlife management) or quantitative social sciences, including comparative psychology.

Select titles of past quantitative theses include:

  • Does "Black Dog Syndrome" exist? A study of the causes and impacts of coat-color bias for shelter dogs

  • Do African elephants in a zoo and a sanctuary show preferences for certain keepers as measured by resposnes to olfactory and auditory cues?

  • Rural and urban dog owners: A preliminary study of lifestyle, behavior, and subsequent pet attachment

  • Black vulture-cattle interactions in Virginia: A pilot study assessing predation risk factors and attitudes towards vultures and control options


Qualitative Research Thesis (ANZ 603)

This capstone option is for students who would like to complete a 9-credit qualitative research project during their final spring semester. Those who wish to pursue this option should consult the thesis director in advance for the purposes of preparing a formal research proposal. The final product is a scholarly, publication-quality paper (defined as one which can qualify for submission to a peer-reviewed journal) in the range of 60 pages or more. The paper includes a literature review, research questions, and a detailed overview of findings that comprise a well-argued scholarly contribution to the field of anthrozoology. Students completing this capstone submit a final paper to two readers and participate in an oral defense. This qualitative project may be particularly beneficial for students planning to continue their graduate training in a doctoral or professional program within the humanities or qualitative social sciences, including the humanities, jurisprudence, education, animal studies, or geography.

Select titles of past qualitative theses include:

  • Scapegoat, savior, or sustainable? The landscape of in-vitro meat

  • A long, wild path: The history of human-animal relations in Alaska and its impact on modern law and policy

  • Masters of manipulation: The voices behind American anti-animal protection views

  • Where is the seat for the buffalo? Placing non-human animals in the "Idle No More" movement


Presentations and Publications:

Several alumni have presented thesis projects at regional, national, and international conferences, and others have successfully submitted revised papers for publication in edited volumes or peer-reviewed journals. Both are extremely valuable outcomes that prove beneficial for career networking, graduate school applications, and even developing a wider audience for the students' anthrozoological research. 

These are a few of the projects that have been presented at conferences:

  • Bennett, N., & Hoffman, C. L. (2017). An analysis of wolfdog behavior, wolfdog husbandry, and the human-wolfdog relationship. Poster presented at the International Society for Anthrozoology Meeting. Davis, CA.

  • Bromser-Kloeden, T., & Hoffman, C.L. (2017). Black vulture-cattle interactions in Virginia: assessing attitudes towards and risk factors for vulture predation. Poster presented at the International Society for Anthrozoology Meeting. Davis, CA.

  • Hoglund, A., & Hoffman, C.L. (2014). Owner-perceived attachment and dog behavioral issues at different time intervals post adoption. Poster presented at the Annual Behavior Society meeting. Princeton, NJ.

  • Egan, J. (2014). Learning retention in zoo visting adults following live animal shows. Poster presented at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums meeting. Orland, FL.

  • Ogle, B. (2014). Assessment of educational media effectiveness in zoo exhibit spaces. Poster presented at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums meeting. Orlando, FL.

  • Doyle, C., & Hoffman, C.L. (2013). Do African elephants in a zoo and a sanctuary show a preference for certain keepers as measured by responses to olfactory and auditory cues? Poster presented at 2nd International Symposium on Zoo Animal Welfare. Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, IL.

These students have published their academic work in various locations:

  • Austin, J. (2013). Shelter from the storm: Companion animal emergency planning in nine states. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 40: 185-210.

  • Fix, A. (2014). 'Where is the seat for the buffalo?': Placing nonhuman animals in the Idle No More movement. Journal for Critical Animal Studies 12: 89-119.

  • Nagy, K., & Johnson, P.D. (2013). Trash Animals. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Simmons, K.E., & Hoffman, C.L. (2016). Dogs on the move: Factors impacting animal rescue organizations' decisions to accept dogs from distant locations. Animals 6.

  • Svoboda, H.J. & Hoffman, C.L. (2015). Investigating the role of coat color, age, sex, and breed on outcomes for dogs at two animal shelters in the United States. Animal Welfare 24: 497-506.

  • Workman, M.K., & Hoffman, C.L. (2015). An evaluation of the role the internet set Petfinder plays in cat adoptions. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 18: 388-397.