Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.76
Liaison Mark Klapatch-Mathias
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Wisconsin-River Falls
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Beth Rausch
Assistant Professor
Animal and Food Science
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Companion Animal Collaboration

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The UWRF Companion Animal program, Service Dog Training program, and the Assistance Dogs Education Program and Training initiative collectively involve on and off campus community members in addressing multi-faceted issues including the abundance of shelter dogs being passed over for adoption, the challenges a person with disabilities faces when getting assistance, and other social inequities experienced by people with disabilities.

The effort offers broad outlets for information-dissemination and public education outreach, allowing an intersection of disciplinary interest, as well as potential for modeling by other higher education institutions. Students from across the university are being served by the internship, impacting a diverse array of majors, including psychology, education, social work, pre-professional disciplines and animal dogs in-training on campus and in the community, thereby providing them first-person insight about the social-inequalities for people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are being served both directly (through increased assistance dog availability) and indirectly via increased awareness and public education surrounding the work of assistance dogs. Finally the interns of ADEPT learn valuable skills including responsibility, empathy, and teamwork, as they work with their partner and the community to train their dog. These skills are reflected not only how they interact with their partners and dogs, but also in how they work with the greater community, especially persons with disabilities. These efforts are worthy of an innovation credit in the STARS report because they address social inequities among our students and members of the community. From my understanding, the report has sections on diversity and equity coordination, assessing diversity and equity, support for underrepresented groups, and affordability and access. The companion animal program and associated collaborations do not clearly fit into any of those specific categories in the report. The program certainly helps address issues in terms of equity, accessibility, and access.

In order for this program to be successful, UWRF has provided faculty for the program. The specific courses taught in the program are not counted in the academic courses of the STARS report because the courses do not individually focus on sustainability. As a whole though, the program helps to address sustainability issues including social justice, accessibility, etc. In addition to the faculty time for teaching in the program, students play a critical role in helping train the animals. Students work with the animals 24/7 so there is constant interaction outside of normal classes. The students take the service animals to all of their classes as well as their homes. UWRF also provide space for the program which includes classrooms as well as a lounge specifically for the students, faculty, and staff involved in the program. The surplus program on campus donated all of the furniture for the space.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.