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.
A directive of the Collaboration and Communication strand of the Animal Research Nexus is to produce dynamic pubic engagement activities that connect different perspectives and generate shared understandings. However, this is very complex as there are many factors to attend to.
In the Species and Spaces project, we’re exploring people’s perceptions around fish use, sentience, and how these shape and define assumptions around their welfare requirements. We wanted to see what the public thought about our research and, in a broader sense, how they felt about fish.
Projects by Bentley
At a previous meeting we were all asked to define what “nexus” meant to us.
Nexus, to me, is a woven net where experience and knowledge twist together to form ropes. Each knot creates a node of epistemic intersection, a mutable fractal built of community, expectation and obligation Venn diagrams. It is therefore impossible to pull at one strand without disturbing others. Perhaps the metaphor of playful disturbance is what I found most appealing.