There is a growing movement to provide a high quality, humane approach to teaching biological science and human and veterinary medicine. In this positive tradition, students learn using a combination of teaching methods ranging from multimedia computer simulation to self-testing on themselves and fellow students.

For direct experience of animals, students practice observational work on living animals, perform healing intervention on those which are sick, and use the bodies of others which have died naturally. In some establishments, however, many students continue to face compulsory and harmful animal use.

These methods cause widespread suffering and death to countless frogs, fish, rats and other animals every year. They teach disrespect for life because the animals are considered disposable tools, and in some countries they disturb the environment from where many animals are sourced.

Although most students will never use animals in their future careers, they are encouraged or coerced into performing dissection and vivisection and into conducting sometimes very painful experiments, contrary to their ethical beliefs. Some students are forced to change discipline or drop out of university altogether because courses have been designed with no facility to choose educationally valid alternatives.

Others find it easier to abandon criticism, losing a healthy scientific attitude and allowing the subjugation of their ethics. This perpetuates the problem and desensitises students to the important values of personal responsibility and respect for life. And the professions lose the very people who are keen to keep ethics within science.

The evidence from other universities is clear: students can and do complete their degrees without any violation of their freedom of conscience and without harming an animal. So as teachers, students, campaigners and legislators we should be working to harmonise with such good practice by challenging and abandoning negative tradition and by supporting the growing movement towards a humane science.

InterNICHE offers practical support to teachers to help replace harmful animal use and complement existing alternative methods. And we empower students to defend their freedom of conscience and to demand a progressive, humane education system of the highest quality.


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