Teaching Advocacy & Activism for Primate Protection

Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman works hard to help her students develop their critical thinking and communication skills. In class, she poses questions about controversial topics that they must research and then respectfully debate. She also actively involves them in field studies, which can include conducting observations of primate behavior at zoos or animal sanctuaries.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to bring students to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya three times and to a sanctuary in Spain once,” she says. “These trips help make the knowledge and research skills they learn about in the classroom come to life. Students are encouraged to use these skills advocating on behalf of chimpanzees in the U.S. after we return.”

A group of them did just that when they met with Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Marymount’s congressional district and is a national leader on animal protection issues. The students had all taken Lopresti-Goodman’s Abnormal Primate Psychology class, and most had traveled abroad with her to volunteer and conduct research at chimpanzee sanctuaries.

“I was impressed by my students’ ability to discuss the intricacies of animal protection issues with the congressman in such a passionate and professional manner,” she said.

The students shared the work they’ve done to help chimpanzees in the U.S., including creating petitions to ban the use of chimpanzees on greeting cards and to retire chimpanzees from roadside zoos. They’ve also presented research at scientific conferences on abnormal behaviors in chimpanzees rescued from abusive captive situations.

Lopresti-Goodman came to Marymount in 2009. In addition to researching the impact that confinement, social isolation, and physical abuse have on the psychological well-being of animals rescued from laboratories, she researches alternatives to the use of animals in psychology education.