Graduate and doctoral coursework includes the following foundational courses: 

  • Introduction to Humane Education
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Animal Protection
  • Human Rights
  • Culture and Change 

Students are also encouraged to participate in a one-week immersion course (Humane Education Residency) held at IHE’s oceanfront campus in Surry, Maine. All courses other than Humane Education Residency are taught online and include research, reflection, group and individual activities, film festivals, field trips, online forums, video-conference discussions, faculty mentoring, peer support, and a final project. 

Meaningful narrative assessment is used in place of grades. 

Foundational  Courses

Introduction to Humane Education (3 credits) This course explores the principle of doing the most good and least harm to people, animals, and the environment and applies this ethic with innovative thinking and action to the field of education. The course looks at humanity and the world through a historical lens and offers a vision for a better future that relies on reason, compassion, evidence-based optimism, and systems awareness to bring about positive long-term change.

Environmental Ethics (3 credits) This course addresses some of the most pressing environmental issues in the world. Topics include climate change, endangered species, pollution, habitat destruction, environmental racism, and resource depletion. The course offers a solutions-oriented approach that balances analyzing problems with identifying strategies to create sustainable and restorative systems. It also examines how we might learn and teach about environmental issues in a way that encourages people to focus on solutions that work for all people, animals, and the Earth.

Animal Protection (3 credits) This course covers a wide range of issues including animal agriculture, experimentation, hunting and trapping, companion animals, and animals used in entertainment. The course explores different philosophies regarding the inherent rights of sentient animals to be free from exploitation and abuse and encourages students to grapple with and determine their own ethics regarding nonhuman animals. The course further examines ways in which we can protect humans, nonhuman animals, and ecosystems for the good of all. Coursework helps students develop techniques for learning and teaching about complex issues in a manner that invites dialogue and solutions.

Human Rights (3 credits) This course explores issues of human rights by analyzing critical challenges and envisioning possible solutions. Specific issues include modern slavery, child labor, human trafficking, racism, gender inequity, poverty, and power and privilege. The course also examines acts of human courage, collaboration, systemic change, and global citizenship. It invites students to find in themselves and others sources of deep humaneness and to develop models of compassion, integrity, and courage. Coursework helps students learn to educate in ways that address conflict effectively and eliminate oppression. 

Culture and Change (3 credits) This course explores the many ways in which cultural norms influence ideas, beliefs, and actions and examines how changemaking happens. Covering social psychology, consumerism, media, economics, and politics, this course provides a foundational overview for understanding the ways in which people are shaped by their cultures. Coursework focuses on critical analysis of cultural systems, the role of cultural conditioning in our lives, and strategies for educating effectively and creatively about these issues. By recognizing the ways in which our thoughts and behaviors are molded by culture, students gain the ability to live and educate more mindfully, and to help bring about transformative cultural change.

Other Required Courses

Solutionary Classroom: Pedagogy in Practice (3 credits, required for M.Ed. students only) In this course, students learn to bring a solutionary process to their work as educators and to apply what they’ve learned in the five core courses in Humane Education (Introduction to Humane Education, Environmental Ethics, Animal Protection, Human Rights, Culture and Change) to create a praxis for integrating humane education into their classroom and/or other educational settings. 

Building a Solutionary Practice (3 credits, required for M.A. students only) This course offers students the opportunity to build their own solutionary practice, both to better their solutionary thinking and action as well as to gain skills for educating others to be solutionaries. Students will put into practice a rigorous solutionary process based on the Solutionary Guidebook. This process includes problem identification; research; critical and systems thinking; stakeholder investigation; devising and evaluating solutions; planning; implementation; presentation; and evaluation.

Practicum (3 credits) The Humane Education Practicum is an individualized course with objectives specific to each student’s goals. With the help of their faculty mentor, students develop a 150-hour project or program designed to help them practice the way in which they hope to manifest humane education in the world. The practicum can take the form of an internship, a creative project, a school or community-based program, the launching of a non-profit organization or social business, to name a few. Students are required to have taken at least 12 credits of foundational coursework or receive their advisor’s approval before enrolling. 

Humane Education Capstone (3 credits) This culminating course in humane education is a supported individualized course through which students develop and present in a public forum a synthesis of their learning. 

Elective courses

Humane Education Residency (3 credits, highly recommended) This one-week humane education immersion offers an experiential, hands-on opportunity for students to observe and practice foundational activities in humane education. Participants create and deliver solutionary-focused presentations; apply critical, systems, strategic, and creative thinking to a variety of issues; and co-create an in-person community of learners that supports change-making through education. Held at IHE’s campus in Maine, this course also offers the opportunity to build abiding in-person relationships with fellow students. No prerequisites. Attending Humane Education Residency early in your studies is strongly encouraged.

Creative Activism: Art and Artists for Social Change (3 credits) This course offers a study of literary, performance, and visual artists who focus their work on one or more facets of comprehensive humane education – human rights, animal protection, and environmental stewardship. In addition to studying solutions-focused art and artists, students examine their own experience with the creative process, design original and collaborative work, and practice integrating art for social change into their own lives, teaching, and/or community outreach. Educators, activists, artists, writers, visionaries, and anyone curious about creative activism discover ways to cross the bridge from despair to action with the support of a dynamic learning community.

Race, Intersectionality, and Veganism (3 credits) In this course, students explore issues of intersectionality, racism, and racial justice within the specific context of veganism. Through structured conversation as well as research, reflection, and practical application, students learn how to educate effectively and seek solutions that address overlapping systems of racial injustice and animal exploitation.

Just, Good Food (3 credits) This course explores how contemporary food systems and individual food choices relate to human, animal, environmental, and social justice issues and focuses on the connections between food systems and issues of hunger, poverty, animal protection, climate change, healthcare, sustainability, legislative policies, and corporate interests. Students also have the opportunity to explore a personal area of interest. Highlighting solutions-focused organizations, practices, and policies, students learn to think critically about how food choices affect all living beings and the planet and gain insight into food-related politics and policy.

Writing for Social Change and Personal Transformation (3 credits) In this course, participants live like writers, thinkers, and creators of wisdom – cultivating and contemplating questions that matter. Through the medium of transformative language arts, students discover what it means to be earth-inspired, animal-inspired, and human-inspired, positioning and empowering words for personal and social change. Through an online retreat design, writers are immersed in readings, music, short films, mindfulness meditation, and experiential writing activities as a source of inspiration and a springboard for independent and/or collaborative writing projects. All genres are open for exploration. Writing circles meet online to share progress, inspirational tips, and resources.

“IHE helped me wed what seemed like opposing forces: conviction AND compassion, passion AND patience. I learned to channel my concern for humans, animals, and our planet into effective ways of creating change and found a brilliant, inspiring community along the way! It has opened so many doors for me and given me the confidence to open a few of my own!”

Kristina Hulvershorn, M.Ed. graduate

Pronatalism, Overpopulation, and the Planet: The Personal, Cultural, and Global Implications of Having a Child (3 credits) The decision to have children or not is arguably one of the most important decisions we make in our lives. It is largely regarded as a personal and isolated decision and a natural rite of passage into adulthood. But how personal really is our decision to have a child? Pronatalism – a set of socio-cultural, ethno-political, religious, and patriarchal pressures that encourage, promote, or coerce reproduction – remains largely absent from our family planning discourse. Human population has doubled in the last 50 years, growing from approximately four billion in 1970 to almost eight billion currently. This is no surprise given that we are adding about one million new humans every five days. There is rising public awareness that overpopulation and rampant overconsumption are driving climate change, resource scarcity, and biodiversity loss here and abroad, yet it is a challenging issue to discuss. Together we will explore the concept and roots of pronatalism, its intersectionality with overpopulation and anthropocentrism, and its impacts on us, other humans, animals, and the environment. Participants will develop techniques for learning and teaching about these issues in a way that invites dialogue and positive solutions.