CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will sponsor a five-part symposium this year on Animal Care and Use in Education, as part of the university's commitment to public discourse and exploration of alternatives on this topic that has often been the source of conflict and social activism.

The analysis of animal use issues, which will begin Jan. 16 and conclude in April, is also the first product of a three-year, $250,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that OSU has received to develop forums, seminars and other educational events analyzing many important social, ethical and political issues that affect modern higher education.

"Starting with the animal use issue and continuing later on other topics, this Kellogg grant represents a huge opportunity for OSU to provide growth and learning for our faculty, students and the community relevant to some of the most critical concerns facing higher education today," said Larry Roper, OSU vice provost for Student Affairs.

The funding is part of the Kellogg Foundation's Leadership for Institutional Change initiative. A second topic to be analyzed at OSU will be the challenges and opportunities of cultural diversity. Roper said more issues will be chosen in coming years.

Leading off is an exploration of animal use issues that represents months of collaboration and work between OSU; its Program for Ethics, Science and the Environment; members of the Vegetarian Resource Network; and other community activists.

"This forum will help everyone who is involved in it teach and learn, which is the strength of a great university such as OSU," Roper said. "We'll explore issues from every perspective, consider all the viewpoints, and not tell people what to think. For that they have to consider what they've learned and how it fits with their own value systems."

The series will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 16, in the Agricultural Production Room of the LaSells Stewart Center from 7-9 p.m., with a discussion of animal use and acquisition at the university. A featured speaker will be Alex Ojerio, director of OSU's Laboratory Animal Resources facility. There will be opportunities for questions and probably small group discussions.

On Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Corvallis Public Library from 7-9 p.m., the series will continue with a discussion of veterinary surgical education. A featured speaker will be Dr. Jill Parker, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine.

Later events and topics include:

  • Feb. 8: Corvallis Public Library, 7-9 p.m., a discussion of revising the Animal Welfare Act; 
  • March 8: LaSells Stewart Center, 7-9 p.m., ethics in the veterinary profession; 
  • April 20-21: a "capstone" international conference that will include exploration of "best practices" regarding animal use in education and research, location to be announced.

This educational initiative is also supporting the travel of three faculty members in the College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU to travel to other universities and analyze alternative approaches that are sometimes used in veterinary medical education, reporting their findings back to interested groups at the university for further discussion.

Other invited speakers to these meetings may include government agency regulators in the field of animal care and use, academic representatives and social activists who oppose the traditional use of animals for education and research at a university.

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Larry Roper, 541-737-3626