Animal ethics theologian to be given award by RSPCA

By staff writers
September 6, 2010

Professor Andrew Linzey, an Oxford theologian and one of the world’s leading ethicists on animal issues, is to receive an award from the RSPCA.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( is a charity in England and Wales which promotes animal welfare. Last year it investigated 141,280 cruelty complaints, and collected and rescued 135,293 animals.

The RSPCA will give the Lord Erskine Award to Professor Linzey at a special ceremony to be held at its headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex, on Saturday 11 September 2010.

Professor Linzey is the founder and the Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford.

This is the first time that the award has been given to a theologian.

Professor Linzey responded: “This is a tremendous affirmation of the work we have been doing at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. I am happy to accept this award on behalf of all the fellows of the Centre who are pioneering ethical perspectives on animals.”

Linzey has written or edited more than 20 books including Animal Theology (1994), Animal Gospel (1999), Creatures of the Same God (2004), and The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence (2009).

His latest book, Why Animal Suffering Matters published by Oxford University Press in 2009 has been described by Christopher Libby, writing in the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture as “a paradigmatic example of how practical ethics ought to be done”.

The award recipient is also Honorary Professor at the University of Winchester, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago. In addition, he is the first Henry Bergh Professor of Animal Ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation, Indiana.

The latter post is named after Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and a pioneer in animal protection.

The RSPCA’s award is named after Lord Erskine (1750–1823) who pioneered the first anti-cruelty legislation in the United Kingdom. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (as it then was) was founded a year after his death in 1824.

The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics was founded in 2006. It aims to pioneer ethical perspectives on animals through academic research, teaching and publication. The Centre has more than 50 Fellows drawn from a variety of academic disciplines from throughout the world.


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