The Brooks Institute is establishing a groundbreaking academic initiative on the sentience and cognition of non-human animals called the Brooks Animal Sentience and Cognition Initiative (BASCO). BASCO will identify the most prominent current research on sentience and cognition, and identify and fill critical gaps in this body of research, all in the service of a paradigm shift for animal welfare and rights. Not everyone will be persuaded to change their behavior or relationships with the non-human world based on groundbreaking science. However, for those willing to consider animal well-being, or for those looking to strengthen the claims for animal protection or rights, BASCO will be an invaluable resource and a call to action.
We expect that BASCO will be advanced in two stages: (1) the academic, and (2) the practical. The first stage will be characterized by scholarly research and its dissemination. The second stage will make rigorous academic research developed in the first stage relevant and instrumental to on-the-ground efforts to protect non-human animals.
First Stage – Research and Publication
We have formed a steering committee that is in the process of engaging scientific advisors. The Brooks Institute will partner with Harvard Law School to host a high-profile 2020 symposium. The symposium participants will be selected based on an international call for papers. The symposium will be funded by the Brooks Institute at a level that ensures that it is the landmark event on animal sentience and cognition to date. Honorarium and other incentives will be made available to participants who commit to participating in the symposium and providing a written work product for an anticipated edited volume to be published by a leading academic press.
Second Stage – Practical Application
The second stage will involve advancing the product of the first stage for maximum legal, scientific, and cultural impact. The Brooks Institute will engage experts in social change theory and practice, as well as in communications and public relations, who will help to ensure that the research from the first stage reaches and influences a wide audience.