Attention: This site looks better in the latest Mozilla or Internet Explorer.

The Humanities Conference 2003

Home | Newsletter | Call for Papers | Register

Presentation Details

 Download: Poster | Brochure 1 | Brochure 2    

Building a Better Society by Promoting Positive Human-Animal Interaction: A Multidisciplinary Challenge

Magdie Heerden.

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it” – Milan Kundera.
The ways in which humans and animals share the world have changed over time. The multidisciplinary nature of human–animal interaction as a field of study, and the contribution of the humanities in this quest for change of thinking by researchers, teachers and practitioners will be challenged. Results from a survey amongst twenty-three disciplines and their involvement in the field of study in South Africa will be discussed. Although the role of each of the identified disciplines are acknowledged in theory, multidisciplinary co-operation in practice is still far and in between. It is suggested that, among others, a description of the nature and extent of the involvement of all the disciplines involved, the aspiration to achieve a shared goal, joint research and teaching, as well as active participation in human–animal interaction programs, should be considered as actions in the quest for multidisciplinary development of the study field.


Magdie Heerden  (South Africa)
Department of Social Work
University of Pretoria

  • Human animal interaction Multidisciplinary co-operation
  • Synergy
  • Well-being

(Virtual Presentation, English)