Conscientious Objection

Conscientious Objection allows all students the chance to enjoy science and express their enthusiasm for biology and other science subject's, whatever their ethical beliefs.  It permits students to choose study methods that do not involve the harming or killing of animals.  Student choice allows all students – regardless of ethical or religious beliefs – access to a high-quality education by offering alternatives to animal experiments with which they may disagree.

The concept of Conscientious Objection was pioneered by Dr Andrew Knight at Perth’s Murdoch University in November 1998. He successfully completed his veterinary qualifications without harming animals. In his objections he referred to numerous published studies which suggested that medical, veterinary, biology and pharmacology students who used alternatives to animal use in their work were at least as competent as the animal using counterparts.

Thousands of animals are killed for dissection and also just for their tissues in various science classes.

Unfortunately these animals die for the demonstration of known facts and to provide students with ‘hands on’ experience of living systems. Many students find this massive sacrifice of animal life wasteful and ethically unacceptable. They are increasingly demanding a more humane approach to studying science that reflects their respect for the lives of other species. Most people study biology because of an interest in living organisms. Instead of biology being viewed as a “study of life”, it can give the association of being “the study of dead things”.

"Biology is the science of life, yet we are told that to study life we must mutilate dead animals who have been bred, born and killed in wire cages, and whose bodies we then throw into the garbage" (Knight, 2000).

HRA is available to offer assistance to all students who are seeking to get a conscientious objection policy at their University or College.

Contact HRA

The following websites also provide information about humane teaching methods for both students and teachers/tutors:

InterNICHE -

The Studies Database of the International Network for Humane Education provides citations and abstracts for over 750 studies primarily focus on educational animal use and alternatives. It is searchable by discipline, authors, and keyword.

Conscientious Objection -

Set up by the University of Melbourne Animal Protection Society (UMAPS), this website is a fantastic resource for students concerned about the harmful use animals throughout their education. It provides information and practical steps on how you can conscientiously object and thereby avoid harmful animal use in your studies.

Humane Learning -

Contains citations and abstracts for over 400 studies of harmful animal use and humane alternatives in various educational disciplines. Of particular interest are reviews of studies comparing student learning outcomes obtained via harmful animal use, with those obtained via humane teaching methods.

Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing -

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing promotes humane science by supporting the creation, development, validation, and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education.


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