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Our Symphony with Animals

The Psychology Between Human and Animal Bonds

Thursday | 

August 27, 2020

8:00am CDT | 12:00pm CDT | 5:00pm CDT
Each session runs approximately 40 minutes with a 30 minute Q and A.

About This Class

A leader in the fields of animal ethics and neurology, Dr. Aysha Akhtar examines the rich human-animal connection and how interspecies empathy enriches our well-being. Deftly combining medicine, social history and personal experience, Dr. Akhtar demonstrates how deeply the well-being of humans and animals are entwined.

Interwoven throughout is Dr. Akhtar’s own story of being a young girl who was bullied in school and sexually abused by her uncle. Feeling abandoned by humanity, it was only when she met Sylvester, a dog who had also been abused, that she found strength for both of them.

Against the backdrop of her inspiring story, Dr. Akhtar asks, what do we gain when we recognize our kinship with animals? She has traveled around the country to tell the stories of a varied cast of characters―including a former mobster, an industrial chicken farmer, a Marine veteran―and has come face to face with a serial killer.

Through storytelling that is entertaining, profound, and touching, Dr. Akhtar reveals what happens when we both break and forge bonds with animals. She demonstrates how humans are neurologically designed to empathize with animals, and how violence against them goes against our nature. In equal measure, the love and friendship we give to other species biologically reverberates back to us.

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About This Class

A leader in the fields of animal ethics and neurology, Dr. Aysha Akhtar examines the rich human-animal connection and how interspecies empathy enriches our well-being. Deftly combining medicine, social history and personal experience, Dr. Akhtar demonstrates how deeply the well-being of humans and animals are entwined.

Interwoven throughout is Dr. Akhtar’s own story of being a young girl who was bullied in school and sexually abused by her uncle. Feeling abandoned by humanity, it was only when she met Sylvester, a dog who had also been abused, that she found strength for both of them.

Against the backdrop of her inspiring story, Dr. Akhtar asks, what do we gain when we recognize our kinship with animals? She has traveled around the country to tell the stories of a varied cast of characters―including a former mobster, an industrial chicken farmer, a Marine veteran―and has come face to face with a serial killer.

Through storytelling that is entertaining, profound, and touching, Dr. Akhtar reveals what happens when we both break and forge bonds with animals. She demonstrates how humans are neurologically designed to empathize with animals, and how violence against them goes against our nature. In equal measure, the love and friendship we give to other species biologically reverberates back to us.

Meet The Expert

Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., is a neurologist and public health specialist and is on a mission to show that what’s good for animals is also good for humans!

Dr. Akhtar is the author of the new book, Our Symphony With Animals. On Health, Empathy and Our Shared Destinies. Combining medicine, social sciences, and stories, her book explores how deeply the well-being of humans and animals are entwined. The book shows how humanity’s compassion for animals is the next step in our species’ moral evolution and a vital component of our own health.

She is the President and CEO of the Center for Contemporary Sciences, which is pioneering the transition to replace the use of animals in experimentation with effective human-based technologies.

Previously she served as Deputy Director of the U.S. Army Traumatic Brain Injury Program developing the Army’s Brain Injury prevention and treatment strategies for soldiers. As a Commander in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Akhtar frequently deployed to assist with national public health emergencies.

For a decade, Aysha was a Medical Officer at the Food and Drug Administration, most recently in the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, implementing studies on vaccine effectiveness and safety and using her Top Secret Security Clearance to develop national preparedness strategies for public health threats. She is published in peer-reviewed journals including Lancet, Pediatrics, Journal of Public Health Policy, and Reviews in the Neurosciences.

Aysha is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Aysha is a TEDx speaker.

Dr. Aysha Akhtar MD, MPH