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New alternatives book published

New alternatives book published: From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse (2nd edition)

A ground-breaking book on life science education has been launched by the International Network for Humane Education (InterNICHE) (1,2,3).

The 544-page publication, from Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse: Alternative methods for a progressive, humane education investigates state-of-the-art alternative tools and approaches to support ethical and effective knowledge and skills acquisition within biological science, medical and veterinary medical education.

'Alternatives' include humane tools such as multimedia computer simulation, training mannekins and simulators, and humane approaches such as student self-experimentation, clinical work with animal patients, and the use of ethically-sourced animal cadavers.

These methods have been developed and implemented by teachers to support successful learning in the life sciences. Alternatives can better meet teaching objectives (4), and when complemented by ethical discussion can encourage critical thinking and the taking of personal responsibility, and help validate compassion, empathy, and respect for life. Alternatives provide opportunities for the full replacement of harmful animal use in life science practical classes (5). This replacement gives respect to students' freedom of conscience, and supports broader access to life science education and professions. It also impacts positively on research, and on society as a whole, by firmly establishing ethical practice in the training of future scientists (6).

Using primary research, comprehensive information on over 500 of the latest products within the fields of anatomy, clinical skills and surgery, critical care, physiology and pharmacology is presented in the book. Listed by discipline and then medium, the application, specifications and source for each product are detailed.

10 case studies, written by university teachers who are at the forefront of new teaching approaches (7), demonstrate how the alternatives have replaced harmful animal use and improved the quality of education in their own departments. Assessment of alternatives, creativity and curricular design, and the broader impact of humane education are also addressed. Finally, 800 further resources provide links to information-rich websites and printed material, to relevant organisations across the world, and to the producers and distributors of alternatives.

The majority of the book will be made available on-line, providing a searchable database with links to producers and product reviews. Translations into other languages are also under production (8), and CD and DVD versions are planned.

The International Network for Humane Education

>From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse is written for life science teachers and students, university ethics committees, legislators, civil liberties and animal protection groups. For reviews of the book (9), please see the InterNICHE website

InterNICHE Co-ordinator, Nick Jukes, said today, "Recent developments in technology have provided educators with a superb range of cutting-edge alternative methods, with significant advantages over the conventional - but rarely validated - animal dissections and live experimentation.

"Such tools, combined with other humane approaches, have already replaced harmful animal use in many university departments and high schools across the world. from Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse provides the information and the arguments to catalyse further curricular transformation, to the benefit of students, teachers, animals and the life sciences."

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