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Developing Children's Awareness of the Human-Animal Bond: An Assessment of the Experiences and Benefits that Children Receive in the United Animal Nation's Humane Education Ambassador Readers (HEAR) Program


Laura Stokes, Ph.D; with assistance from Dawn Robles, Inverness Research Inc.


In 2007, the United Animal Nations (see launched the Humane Education Ambassador Readers (HEAR), an innovation that focused on mitigation of animal suffering through education.  In the HEAR program, adult volunteers read carefully selected story books to children in grades 3-6 in schools or other educational settings, and hold discussions with the children about the themes of the stories.  The immediate aim of the HEAR program is to help children learn about pets and about pet-people relationships, and to help children develop respect, compassion, and empathy related to treatment of pets and all animals.  The ultimate goal of HEAR is to contribute to animal welfare through education.

This study focuses on these research questions:

1. What learning opportunities does the HEAR model afford students?
2. What are the potential benefits of the HEAR model?
3. What elements of the model are most significant and promising?

Contents of the Report

Summary Findings includes a short statement of the take-away message of this report:

The HEAR model offers an engaging, thought-provoking, and substantive learning experience to students.

  • The HEAR model adds value to students' everyday education.
  • HEAR is a robust and potentially scalable model.
  • The HEAR model calls for further refinement and continual attention to quality control.

Design of the HEAR program includes an explication of the key components of the HEAR model and their rationale.

Findings includes discussion of the nature of the students' learning experience, as well as examination of how the HEAR program functions to create a learning environment for students. We discuss a) Initial engagement with characters and themes; b) Building and reinforcing knowledge; c) Developing perspective-taking through critical thinking; and d) Reinforcing and extending knowledge and empathy.

The report also has reflections on ways to strengthen students' learning experiences—formative feedback on ways to strengthen the program and optimize student learning opportunity.

See below to download this report.

Intended Audience

United Animal Nations, Local Policy Makers, Funders, Educators, Teachers, Reform Leaders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Date published

May 2009

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.

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