My main research interest is the development of scientific approaches for the study of animals as whole sentient beings (i.e. as subjects rather than objects), bringing insights from philosophy of mind and social psychology and anthropology into the study of animal emotion. In collaboration with colleagues from SRUC and other institutes I have developed and validated a methodology for the study of animal expressivity (body language) and subjective experience, generally referred to as ‘Qualitative Behaviour Assessment’ (QBA). My research focuses on the application of this method as a practical tool for welfare assessment and management in farm, zoo, and companion animals. Research interests associated with this work are animal boredom and environmental enrichment. Understanding animals as subjects should affect the social context in which we live with animals, and I am therefore also involved in social science and humanities activities and research, both at SRUC and other institutes. In this context my interest is how communication with animals, and sensitization to the (subtle) ways in which they express themselves, may lead to greater respect and better care for them. This interest was much enriched by the sabbatical year I spent in the department of social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. I would like my work to contribute to a greater integration between natural and social sciences, and to a growing trust in relational forms of knowledge.
Find more about Prof Francoise Wemelsfelder on