A Recap of our Humane Education Conference: Educating for a Just, Peaceful and Sustainable Future

On September 21st at New York University, 450 teachers, educational administrators, changemakers, policymakers, humane educators and concerned citizens came together for a day devoted to humane education.
 
HEART, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots and the Institute for Humane Education banded together to organize our first conference and, we’re thrilled to report, it was an incredible success. With presentations from Dr. Jane Goodall, Arun Gandhi, Meena Alagappan and Zoe Weil and breakout sessions from some of the best humane education experts in the country, participants took home a wealth of knowledge on how to bring human rights, animal protection and environmental ethics into their classrooms and youth programs.
 
There were many memorable moments from the conference but one of our favorites had to be when students from the HEART, Roots and Shoots and other humane programs talked to an auditorium full of teachers about how humane education changed their lives. Chelsea Alonzo, a freshman at St. Jean Baptiste High School, said, “we really need these programs” and brought many in the audience to tears as she talked about learning about animal cruelty and how she has worked to make a difference for animals since participating in HEART’s program. Another student, 5th grader Kasey Chan, also made the audience tearful as she became choked up on stage and needed a moment to compose herself.  She then went on to tell the packed auditorium about her own initiative designed to fight factory farming.

Humane education conference

heart humane education

For the breakout sessions attendees learned about service learning, teaching about animal issues, teaching about environmental and sustainability issues, changing educational paradigms, incorporating humane education into elementary, middle and high schools, and received professional development hours for attending the conference. HEART’s own staff taught a variety of the breakout sessions and shared their years of experience working with youth to a captivated audience.

HEART conference

At the end of the day when teachers were leaving, HEART staff stood and marveled at just how many students will be exposed to humane education thanks to this conference. We love working with students directly, but when you can inspire an educator to bring social justice issues into the classroom, you quickly multiply how many kids are getting compassion as part of their curriculum. Based on these glowing responses to the conference, we can say without a doubt that all our hard work will make a big difference:
 
Thank you for inspiring me. I can only hope to be able to find new ways to “plant my own seed” for positive change in this lifetime! – Angela L.
 
My heart has been so heavy knowing the state of affairs of our planet, but this conference has breathed life back into the work I do and am encouraged by the young and old brought together to encourage and nourish hope for change. Thank you, – Bonnie, N. Carolina 
 
I am so glad and hopeful that there are so many other passionate, truly passionate, people that are so like-minded. I am so grateful to be a part of this as it marks a turning point for me and my life and for our field. To the future! It’s bright! -Annie K., age 20, Pennsylvania State University 
 
Thank you for this conference. I am an astronomer with NASA- looking outward into the universe. You all have given me the way to join the science and philosophy of universe with my earth, my animals. I am so moved.
 
450 people at a humane education conference: Humane Education’s time has come! Let’s change the world!

humane conference

We would also like to thank the many sponsors who helped make this event happen including the ASPCA, Animal Welfare Trust, Animalearn, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, A Kinder World Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundations, New Visions Foundation and Inspired Learning Connections. We would also like to thank our host, the NYU Animal Studies Initiative, and our media sponsors, including the United Federation of Teachers’ Humane Education Committee, Our Hen House, NYU Steinhardt and World View.

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