Minding Animals International Incorporated (MAI) provides an avenue for the transdisciplinary field of Animal Studies to be more responsive to the protection of animals. It is recognised that animal protection in this context encapsulates environmentalism, animal liberation, animal rights, wildlife protection, animal welfare and animal justice (in no particular order of importance). MAI aims to enable discourse between the various interests within this rapidly developing transdisciplinary field in ways that will improve the status of non-human animals and alleviate nonhuman animal exploitation. As such, MAI facilitates research in Animal Studies as a conduit of non-governmental politics and action. MAI acts as a bridge between academia and advocacy and is a network of more than 3,000 academics, artists, activists and advocates, dedicated to the study and protection of all planetary life through the advancement of Animal Studies.
Vision, Mission, Ambition
- Our vision is a world where all animals are understood with respect and compassion.
- Our mission is to facilitate the global development of animal studies.
- Our ambition is to serve as a bridge between animal studies and animal protection.
- To place an understanding of animal well-being at the heart of society.
- To advance animal studies globally as credible and relevant academic study.
- To inform the debate about animal protection.
- To build an organisational infrastructure and an international team of the highest calibre to deliver our strategic aims.
What We Will Do
- We will co-produce occasional international conferences with selected partners.
- We will sponsor national and regional events to achieve our objectives.
- We will also partner with like-minded organisations to promote their conferences.
- We will manage an international network of affiliated and mutually supportive national groups.
- We will produce a website and publish a regular electronic bulletin.
The Outcomes We Expect
- Improved understanding of our interrelationship with nonhuman animals.
- International recognition of animal studies.
- Increasing numbers of scholars in animal studies.
- Better informed public policy and stronger legislation relating to animals.
Minding Animals Conference Themes, Objectives and Principles
The Minding Animals Conferences have the following major recurring themes and objectives:
- To reassess the relationship between the animal and environmental movements in light of climate change and other jointly-held threats and concerns;
- To examine how humans identify and represent nonhuman animals in art, literature, music, science, and in the media and on film;
- How, throughout history, the objectification of nonhuman animals and nature in science and society, religion and philosophy, has led to the abuse of nonhuman animals and how this has since been interpreted and evaluated;
- To examine how the lives of humans and companion and domesticated nonhuman animals are intertwined, and how science, human and veterinary medicine utilise these important connections;
- How the study of animals and society can better inform both the scientific study of animals and community activism and advocacy; and
- How science and community activism and advocacy can inform the academic study of nonhuman animals and society.
Minding Animals International Incorporated and its triennial conferences will not exclude any animal, environmental, scientific or veterinary group or advocacy, or any other relevant organisation, from participating in Minding Animals Conferences or Events, except in so far as the following Ethical Statement applies:
- Minding Animals does not support and will reserve the right to refuse offers of support or sponsorship where it deems that a group or organisation supports or funds animal cruelty and exploitation, such as the use of animals in the testing of products manufactured for human cosmetics or beauty, and of any company that supports or funds the fur industry or the commercial killing of marine mammals; and,
- Minding Animals also does not support and will reserve the right to refuse offers of support or sponsorship from organisations which, for example, knowingly support acts of violence, the trade in armaments, nuclear weapons, tobacco promotion, oppressive regimes, environmentally damaging practices, poor employment practices and slavery.
The Minding Animals Conference (MAC) as a concept was devised to advance the emerging transdiscipline of Animal Studies (also known as Human Animal Studies, Animals and Society, and Critical Animal Studies) both within the academy and the broader community. The overriding objective, therefore, will be to continue to do this.
In addition, and to build on its transdisciplinarity, all MACs will strive to engage the sciences and the humanities. Each MAC will also strive to engage environmental and animal advocacies. And each MAC will strive to engage advocacies with government bureaucracies and tertiary institutions. Each conference will be held every three years at various tertiary institutions selected by the Minding Animals International Board of Directors and will include unique features, including:
- A Protecting the Animals Seminar Series where advocacies, government agencies and research institutes are given the freedom to present their objectives and outline their activities in a non-confrontational and educational environment;
- Several Pre-conference Events around the globe to advance and promote the main MAC (to be cost-neutral to the MAC); and,
- Each MAC should provide a featured forum for Animal Studies groups to meet and organise.
Selecting Conference Hosts
A Call for Expressions of Interest will be made for institutions to host each Minding Animals Conference. The call will be made in the Minding Animals Bulletin one year prior to the next conference for the conference that follows. The selected institution will be announced at the next conference and in the Bulletin. The key factors that will determine whether an institution is selected will entail consideration of several factors that include:
- The ability to support and commit to the objectives of Minding Animals International;
- Financial capability of the nominee host;
- Ability to negotiate with all local public and private art galleries for an arts festival to run concurrently with the Conference, as well as the ability and or willingness to host a film and or documentary festival, and a performance art event;
- Ability to facilitate the Protecting the Animals Seminar Series, Animals Studies Groups Forums and an Interfaith Service;
- Ability to facilitate specialist panels and Minding Animals Study Circles;
- A commitment to not exclude abstracts on academic merit alone, but also consider the importance of an abstract/presentation to nonhuman animals, the broader community and to advancing the objectives of the Minding Animals concept; and
- Commitment and ability to be a vegan, GM-free, organic and carbon-neutral conference.
Note that the Conference Organising Committee will be obligated to seek funding for the conference (within the ambit of the Conference Themes, Objectives, Principles and Ethical Statement, and with the direct assistance of the MAI Board), and to appoint a company to run/organise the conference. As such, financial liability will always lie with the host institution(s).
Conference Organising Committees and Commitments
A Conference Organising Committee will be selected from the host institution(s) and comprise the MAI Board Chair and Executive Director, and one other member of the Board, preferably from the nation or continent selected to host the conference. The Organising Committee shall elect a Conference Convenor (or Co-convenors) to head the conference and as any other members as it determines.
The Organising Committee will be obligated to seek funding for the conference (within the ambit of the Conference Themes, Objectives and Principles, and with the direct assistance of the MAI Board), and if necessary appoint a company to manage the conference. As such, financial liability will always lie with the host institution(s). The Conference Manager (from the organising company) will be a member of the Organising Committee. The Organising Committee will make all possible attempts to negotiate with all local public and private art galleries an arts festival to run concurrently with the Conference. A film and or documentary festival shall also be considered, as will a performance art event. All such events should be cost-neutral to the MAC and to MAI.
The structure of each MAC will be decided by the Organising Committee, but should include the Protecting the Animals Seminar Series, an Animals Studies Groups Forum and, ideally, an Interfaith Service. A traditional conference structure is recommended with oral sessions, and plenary sessions with invited guests. Specialist panels should also be considered. Consideration should be made of holding dedicated roundtables on, for example, Animals and Feminism, Animals and the Queer Communities, and a Student Forum, or as is organised by the Minding Animals Study Circles. The Organising Committee should consider appointing a local Advisory Committee, a Programme Committee and a Financial Sub-committee.
As far as is possible, and as the MAC is an academic and community conference, abstracts should not be excluded for poor academic merit alone, but should be considered also on the importance to the community and to advancing the objectives of the Minding Animals concept. Student papers should also be actively supported. Consideration should only be made of limiting abstracts if an author submits more than one abstract.
The MAI Website will also be made available to all subsequent MACs. The Conference Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuite, Googlegroups and Gmail accounts will also be made available as is necessary and or feasible. All Minding Animals Conferences, and Events organised directly by MAI, will, henceforth, be vegan, and will strive to be GM-free, organic and carbon-neutral. All other Minding Animals Events not organised directly by MAI will also be encouraged to adopt this policy.