I have just submitted the final version of the ERC Consolidator Grant application "Assessing human and animal welfare in the Anthropocene". This is the most ambitious, and longest, research application I have ever written - 13 page Scientific proposal (plus references) with 5 page Extended synopsis. Some 26 pages of text written including CV, early achievement track record etc., and 50+ pages including attachments and online forms.
Two of the main challenges of the 21st century is to secure high levels of human welfare for a growing number of humans, as well as to secure the welfare of animals. Until recently, human and animal welfare have for the most part been regarded as separate issues, and there has not been much interdisciplinary research making connections between welfare in humans and welfare in non-humans. The main aim of AHAWELL is to develop practical tools for cross-species assessment of welfare in both humans and animals in the ecological context of the Anthropocene. Given the intrinsic or inherent value of both human and animal individuals, such tools will be required if we are to successfully overcome the environmental crisis while simultaneously pursuing human development.Most current methods for assessing welfare are limited by not looking at human and animal welfare in context, and by not accounting for their interrelation. In results, there is a lack of tools for cross-species assessments of subjective welfare. Since self-reporting is not an option in assessment of animal welfare, nor in assessment of all human cases, there is a need for development of new tools. This project makes use of Umwelt theory, originally developed by Jakob von Uexküll, as a basis for such tool development for use in cross-species welfare assessment.The specific research objectives of AHAWELL is 1) to develop methodology for Umwelt mapping of human–animal relations, 2) to develop an Umwelt ethogram, 3) to describe key features of current human ecology by mapping global animal species, 4) to use biosemiotic ethics to set welfare standards, 5) to critically analyze the role of income growth for the Human Development Index (HDI), 6) to develop an Animal Development Index (ADI), and 7) to develop novel, cross-species measures of human and animal welfare.Successful completion of the project will require interdisciplinary collaboration integrating work done in philosophy, biology and economics.