By Carol Glaser,
Humane Research Council (HRC)
Thank Yous and Goodbyes...
The last day of 2012 marked my last official day as an employee at the Humane Research Council. I served as the Research Director for two years and have stayed on part time for the last several months to help with a smooth transition as the organization seeks a new Research Associate. Being a part of the HRC team has been an amazing experience, as there is no other organization like it.
While animal exploitation industries are pouring huge percentages of their budgets into research and development, the animal protection movement is spending almost nothing on it. The Humane Research Council is one of the only resources our movement has when it comes to solid, systematic research that can evaluate campaigns and gauge where the public stands on animal protection issues. And better yet, HRC makes most of its resources and services available for free.
I decided to leave HRC to pursue an academic research agenda, but the decision was difficult because I know what important work HRC is doing; it has been amazing to be a part of it. As soon as I began at HRC I was asked if there were any programs or projects I wanted to add. I wanted to do something that provided our top-notch research services pro-bono to grassroots groups, the heart of the animal protection movement. From this idea, we developed the Grassroots Research Fund.
Through the Grassroots Research Fund we have been able to do large-scale projects for groups with small budgets. HRC has provided free research to a number of organizations, such as the Animal Rights Coalition in Minneapolis. We proudly assisted their Forego Foie Gras Campaign by designing and administering the Twin Cities Dining Survey. The survey found an overwhelming lack of support for foie gras in the area, allowing the Animal Rights Coalition to put pressure on local restaurants to drop the cruel food item.
The Grassroots Research Fund and the research stemming from it only begin to touch on the amazing work that I was lucky to be a part of. In my time at HRC I saw our blog become more useful, adding more articles to explain the state of research on various topics and incorporating guest blogs from various authors, researchers, and experts. We also made the website more accessible, providing more of our resources to unregistered users (though registration is free, as always).
Over the two and a half years that I was with HRC we began the Humane Trends Study, a barometer of animal protection in the U.S., began an internship program for undergraduate and graduate students, and had our first journal article publication (PDF file). Not to mention all the amazing research studies I got to be a part of, such as the Readability Study. Partnering with VegFund and FARM, we evaluated the readability of the most widely distributed vegan outreach literature and found that they were all written at a reading level higher than that of the average U.S. adult.
Not only did I get to be a part of a lot of “firsts” for HRC, I was able to take part in ongoing studies that have made HRC so invaluable to the animal protection movement. One of the most important is the Research Database. It costs thousands of dollars to subscribe to journal article databases, something the average animal advocate or group cannot do, so HRC accesses those articles and maintains an animal protection “library.” HRC summarizes a new research article every weekday and adds it to the database so that advocates can have a searchable database of relevant research to which they otherwise would not have access.
I have also had the pleasure of working with interns to update our research primers, short reports that summarize the last decade of public opinion research on various topics. We also began making these primers into free webinars. These primers are a must-read before beginning a campaign, allowing advocates to understand the trends and attitudes they will be trying to change through their efforts.
I also got to be a part of HRC’s Animal Tracker survey, the only annual survey tracking social attitudes across a wide range of animal protection issues. HRC and the organizations that fund this important study every year are primarily concerned with ending animal exploitation, so this data and data from other studies is made available to researchers for free (by request). Not only does HRC share data for free with the hopes of it making a greater impact, but it makes research easy for animal advocates to understand with comprehensive reports and the Graphing Tool, which allows advocates to quickly access the Animal Tracker data in a visual format.
I could continue to go on about all the wonderful research HRC does to make animal advocacy have a greater impact, but I will digress now because I want to hold your attention long enough to ask you to continue supporting this great work and to thank all the people who have had such a great impact on me during my time at HRC.
Animal advocates work harder than anyone I know. Our movement’s problem isn’t a lack of drive, it is a lack of resources. HRC puts the few resources they have to helping advocates make their work more informed and more successful. I hope you can support this amazing organization by making a general donation, donating specifically to a project or survey you find of particular value, or hiring HRC to help your organization provide great research for your next campaign.
I also want to thank all the wonderful people I worked with during my time at HRC. This includes many people at many animal protection organizations, as well as the team at HRC. While HRC only has one full time staff member (to make sure your dollars go directly to research) there are a lot of people who dedicate time to the organization as board members and volunteers. Thank you all for helping me learn and grow as a researcher and, more importantly, as an animal advocate.