Humane Education Professional Development Opportunities

As summer approaches and another school year winds down, we wanted to not only congratulate teachers for making it through this challenging year, but also thank them for all they did to help students grow, learn and adapt over these past nine months.

Summer is a time for teachers to take a much needed break, reflect on the year that was, and prepare for the year ahead. Now is a great time to start thinking of different professional development opportunities to further knowledge and understanding of animals, people, and the environment. We have compiled a variety of resources including free conferences, courses, videos, books and more that will help foster kindness and compassion in your students- and the best part is -that you can do it all from the comfort of your own home! If you decide to take advantage of some of these learning opportunities, let us know how they go (we plan on taking a few ourselves!).  *views represented in these suggestions do not necessarily represent the views of the Alberta SPCA.


  • Educators for Animals Conference (August 18-19, 2021)
    • This free virtual two-day conference brings educators from across Canada together to explore how animal protection can be incorporated into the classroom. Sponsored by Humane Canada, this two-day conference includes sessions titled “Using Storytime and Animal Projects to Cultivate Compassion,” “Creative Ways to Incorporate Animal Issues into High School Courses,” and “Fostering Empathy and Critically Compassionate Thinking” co-presented by Alberta SPCA Director of Education, Melissa Logan. Registration is free.
  • Summer Institute for Climate Change Education: A Regrounding in Truth (July 28-30, 2021)
    • This global conference brings educators together virtually to gain knowledge, skills, tools, and resources to teach about climate change in all subject areas and grades. This three-day conference includes sessions, networking and one full day dedicated to working and planning with regional cohorts. Registration is $250, however there are scholarship opportunities available.

Courses and Workshops:

  • Learn more about animals, their welfare and behaviour through the University of Edinburgh’s free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course). Enrollment is free and courses take approximately 10-15 hours to complete.
  • Indigenous Canada Course
      • From the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, this 12-module course explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada from an Indigenous perspective highlighting Indigenous-settler relations. Enrollment is free, but if you’d like to receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course, there is a small fee.
  • National Geographic
      • National Geographic’s free online courses equip educators with the knowledge and tools to positively impact their classroom. The courses assist educators in building their own skills and knowledge to foster curiosity of the natural world in their students. Courses are both self-paced and cohort-based and cover topics such as teaching climate change and teaching students to ask their own questions.
  • Outdoor Learning Store
      • This spring, the Canadian Outdoor Learning Store hosted a free virtual workshop series that were recorded and available for educators to watch anytime. Topics covered include: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry, Teaching Kids and Teens about Climate Change, and Inspiring Environmental Learning through Music and Song! Each session is about an hour in length.

Books, Documentaries, and More:

  • Think Like an Animal (Documentary)
    • Researchers are finding new ways to explore the animal mind. When it comes to understanding how animals think, we typically approach it from a human-centric perspective! Can the latest science change the way we think about animals? In this Nature of Things episode, animal intelligence is explored and new research dispels old myths.
  • AnimalChat: The Alberta SPCA Podcast (Podcast)
    • The more we know about animals, the more willing and able we are to provide adequate care, and AnimalChat helps build that knowledge. The podcast explores topics such as animal behaviour, welfare, and protection and a new episode is available every second Friday, wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (book)
    • Ethologist and primatologist Frans de Waal explores animal cognition and intelligence throughout the animal kingdom in this very digestible book that marries research and antidotes. This thought provoking read will challenge what you think you know about animals! This is also a great listen on an audiobook. Frans de Waal most recent book, Mama’s Last Hug explores animal emotions, and looks to be another excellent read (or listen)!

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