How do publics talk about or reflect on animal research? Can animal research be considered part of everyday life? How can researchers use archives to understand engagement with sensitive topics? These questions and more prompted us to organise a workshop which focused on the Mass Observation Project.
Social scientists and historians have long observed that laboratory and field research are rather different (e.g., Gieryn, 2006; Kohler, 2002). For example, laboratories are seemingly contained and controlled spaces designed for the specific purpose of performing science, whereas ‘fields’ are largely uncontrolled spaces used for numerous different purposes and associated forms of regulation, some of which may overlap or come into conflict with the pursuit of scientific research.
When you build a world you have the luxury (and burden) of designing everything within it. The aim is to create a space that elevates participants to a position of freedom, a freedom to access things that are felt but perhaps not yet thought, or thought but perhaps not yet said. Imaginary worlds help dissolve social conventions and structural inequalities that may prevent participants from interacting with your theme in the “real” world.
On the 21st May, Pru Hobson-West and I dipped our toes into public engagement around animal research at the Nottingham Pint of Science Festival 2019. We gave the third and final session of the night at Rough Trade, a music venue and record shop in the city centre, following previous talks on the refinement of a mouse model of stroke and the science of nutrition.
We are delighted to feature this guest blog on mice models in animal research from Nicole C. Nelson. Nicole is a professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, and the author of the 2018 book Model Behavior published by The University of Chicago Press
On 5th March 2019 I attended a fantastic workshop, organised by the Leverhulme Trust funded Interspecies Connectedness project at the University of Warwick. This project focuses on dog training cultures as a way of exploring different forms of human-animal connectedness. The aim of the March workshop was to discuss some emerging findings with stakeholders such as dog trainers and welfare charities, and to jointly consider how best to maximise the overall impact of the research.
Can animals volunteer to participate in research? If so, what does volunteering look like, and what does it mean for animal welfare?
Numbers can be a contentious issue in animal research. The Home Office reports statistics of laboratory animal procedures in Great Britain every year. These figures are then the focus of comment across the community, pointing out trends, opening up issues in measurement, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
There is no qualitative research into public understanding of the origins of research animals, which is a particular area of interest for the Markets and Materials strand. Where public opinion of laboratory animal research exists, it is most often directed towards its acceptability, not towards public knowledge of biomedical research practices of laboratory animal production.