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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

4th Meeting of the 189th Session (2009-2010)

Animal Welfare: Modern Insights on an Old Issue

Professor Alistair Lawrence
Sustainable Livestock Systems
SAC (Scottish Agricultural College)

In the Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
On Monday 18th January 2010, at 7pm

Animal welfare is often seen as a sign of modern affluence, in effect that we can afford to be concerned about the well-being of animals. In fact a historical perspective suggests that concern about animals' welfare dates back to the enlightenment, at a time when scientific evidence began to suggest strong biological similarities between animals and humans. From that point concern for animal welfare has steadily increased until at the present time it has become a global issue that transcends countries and cultures. In this talk Professor Lawrence will describe the development of animal welfare and discuss what lies behind our concerns for other animals. In particular he will emphasise the equivocal position of science which on the one hand provides evidence for such phenomena as animal emotions and intelligence but on the other hand is wary of 'anthropomorphising' animals. He will illustrate how animal welfare research has had to tackle this issue 'head-on' which has led to some fascinating new insights into the world of animals.

Professor Alistair Lawrence was born into a farming family in Perthshire and studied Zoology at St Andrews University. After gaining a PhD at the University of Edinburgh under Professor David Wood-Gush, one of the pioneers of farm animal welfare research, he became Research Assistant to then The Principal of the School of Agriculture (Professor Peter Wilson), before becoming responsible for behaviour and welfare research at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). He now heads the Animal Welfare Team at SAC and is responsible for coordinating SAC's research into livestock welfare and recently he took on the acting role of head of the sustainable livestock group. He holds a joint position with the University of Edinburgh Veterinary School where he helps oversee delivery of welfare teaching to undergraduate veterinary and master's student and has just finished a 9-year spell as a member of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council. Professor Lawrence also has an interest in developing wider public understanding of animal welfare, particularly in young people.

Location of meeting

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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