University First Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Stuart, and CreatureKind Founder and co-Director, David Clough signed the formal agreement which sees the University commit to a cycle of reviewing current sourcing, setting goals for improved practice, and engaging with the wider University community about the programme.
The University of Winchester is the first higher education institution internationally to sign the CreatureKind
The signing took place at the Animal Welfare and Religion Symposium hosted by the University's Centre for Animal Welfare, at which a diverse range of experts presented the viewpoints of various major religions concerning animals and their welfare.
CreatureKind works to engage the church on animal welfare issues, with a particular focus on farmed animal welfare. While efforts by secular organisations have resulted in some corporations making changes to their food policies, CreatureKind is pioneering this campaign among Christian and faith-influenced institutions.
The University's Catering for LIFE (Local, Independent, Fair, Ethical) initiative focuses on ethical standards - including offering Fairtrade products and using free range and locally-reared animals where possible - and good practices such as reducing food miles, promoting recycling and efficient waste management.
"The University of Winchester has a Christian foundation and is a values-driven institution committed to high standards of environmental sustainability, Fairtrade practices, and animal welfare," says University of Winchester First Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Elizabeth Stuart.
"Signing the CreatureKind Commitment connects our values with our practice. Compassion is at the heart of our institution and we seek to improve the lives of animals used in the production of meat, dairy, and eggs and reducing the demand for animal products from factory farms."
The University already has strategic partnerships with Compassion in World Farming
(CiWF) and the International Foundation for Animal Welfare
(IFAW). Last month the University was awarded the British Quality Foundation Sustainable Future Achievement Award for outstanding environmental or social contribution to achieving a more sustainable world, recognising a raft of initiatives aimed at tackling the challenge of reducing its environmental impact and mitigating the risks of climate change in its operations.
"Among animal protection groups, CreatureKind is unique in that our project is motivated by a Christian recognition of animals as fellow creatures of God and of a human responsibility to be kind towards them," says CreatureKind Founder and co-Director, David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Chester.
"Many Christians and Christian institutions claim to have a commitment to creation care, but few have made concrete steps to connect animal welfare with those claims. CreatureKind is delighted the University of Winchester has pledged their commitment and hopes this may inspire other institutions to follow."
CreatureKind was founded in 2015 and works from within the church to help Christians address the welfare of factory farmed animals, a critical and often-overlooked component of creation care. CreatureKind focuses on partnerships for policy change, education, and community-building.