In 2009, Dr Rod Bennison and Dr Jill Bough coordinated the First International Academic and Community Conference on Animals and Society, to be called Minding Animals, in Newcastle, Australia, which also represented the third biennial conference of the Australian Animal Studies Group. This successful event, which was the first of its kind, brought together from across the world and from 23 countries, 520 scholars, advocates, policy makers, artists and others who shared an interest in Animal Studies. A steering committee was established at the end of the conference to direct the development of a second international event.
The name for the first conference, Minding Animals, was inspired by Marc Bekoff’s book, Minding Animals, and his life work exploring the emotional world of animals through the discipline of ethology. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
In 2010, Rod established Minding Animals International (MAI). The steering committee of the inaugural conference was reconstituted as MAI’s Board of Directors and a separate Academic Advisory Committee was established. The board assumed the responsibility of the objectives agreed to at the conclusion of the Newcastle conference, which included the feasibility of a second conference.
The Board considered where the next conference should be and after nominations were considered, Universiteit Utrecht was selected. The conference was convened by Dr Tatjana Višak and ably supported both logistically and financially by her peers in the Ethics Institute (Faculty of Humanities) and Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.
We have been indeed fortunate in that both the Newcastle and Utrecht Conferences were supported financially by several organisations (other than by our respective universities). Of note, the University of Newcastle and Voiceless Animal Protection Institute provided sponsorship for the Newcastle event, and the Utrecht event was sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, the European Commission and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Following the Utrecht Conference, the Board considered several options for MAC3. The nomination from Vivek Menon of the Wildlife Trust of India was successful. The host for MAC3 will be the WTI, in collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).