CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty

Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program

The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty
Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
September 22-25, 2016


The Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty, a conference that will bring experts together to assess the first fifty years of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and consider recommendations for the future. The event will include conference presentations as well as a separate academic workshop component.

Originally enacted as the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966, the AWA will turn fifty in 2016. The AWA is the most comprehensive animal protection legislation in the United States and governs the treatment of hundreds of thousands of animals used for various purposes, including research; exhibition at zoos, circuses, and marine parks; and the pet trade. Its stated purposes are “to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities or for exhibition purposes or for use as pets are provided humane care and treatment,” “to assure the humane treatment of animals during transportation in commerce,” and “to protect the owners of animals from the theft of their animals by preventing the sale or use of animals which have been stolen.” To effectuate these goals, Congress requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer licensing requirements and to conduct inspections to ascertain compliance with minimum welfare standards, and authorizes the agency to bring enforcement actions.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the AWA, this conference will convene experts from various fields to discuss the evolution of the Act and its implementation, with a focus on current issues and new proposals.

Call for Abstracts for Conference Presentations and Workshop Papers

We welcome submissions on both broad and specific law and policy issues. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Agency compliance strategies
  • Efficacy of different types of standards, such as engineering vs. performance, general vs. species-specific, etc.
  • Which categories of animals are/should be afforded legal protections
  • Agency licensing practices
  • Agency restructuring proposals
  • Agency culture
  • Differential treatment of research facilities and other regulated entities
  • Education vs. enforcement
  • Regulatory vs non-regulatory approaches
  • AWA intersections with other laws
  • Agency inspections
  • Agency administrative hearing practices and due process
  • Agency collaboration with the Department of Justice
  • Settlements and discounting administrative penalties
  • Agency use of warnings
  • Assessing the adequacy of veterinary care
  • Judicial review of agency action
  • Citizen suit provision proposals
  • Impact of public opinion on the law and its implementation, media narratives, and social movement advocacy
  • Animal confiscation under the AWA
  • Transparency in implementation
  • Alternatives to use of animals in research
  • The role and efficacy of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees
  • The role of undercover investigations at regulated facilities
  • Comparative analyses of the AWA and other animal protection regimes

In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue, we encourage submissions from legal scholars and lawyers; government officials and staff; academics in disciplines outside of law, such as sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics; international scholars and regulators; veterinarians and animal behaviorists; and others with perspectives on the AWA. We also encourage submissions from experts in other areas of legislation and regulation who can bring a comparative approach to the study of the AWA. We encourage submissions from advocacy organizations, industry representatives, think tanks, and others outside academia, but emphasize that this is a scholarly conference and abstracts will be judged by academic standards.

Individuals can submit proposals for both conference presentations and the workshop if desired.

Conference Presentations

Those interested in presenting at the conference are invited to submit an abstract of up to 400 words describing their proposed presentation along with a CV. All abstracts and CVs should be submitted together to emailwith “AWA Conference Presentation Proposal” in the subject line no later than March 1, 2016. Conference presentations will be approximately 20 minutes in length.

Workshop Papers

Those interested in participating in the academic workshop are invited to submit an abstract of up to 400 words describing their proposed paper along with a CV. All abstracts and CVs should be submitted together to emailwith “AWA Workshop Proposal” in the subject line no later than March 1, 2016.

Those selected as workshop participants must submit their final papers by August 15, 2016, so that they can be circulated and read by the other workshop participants in advance of the workshop. The final workshop papers should be approximately 10,000 words (including footnotes). Each paper should be an unpublished work in progress. We will consider papers that have been accepted for publication, as long as they have not yet been published and the author will still have an opportunity to incorporate feedback from the workshop.


Please direct any questions to email.