Professor Andrew Knight



Fellowship by Meritorious Contributions to the Profession

Christopher Little

What tips do you have for putting your application together?

Candidates should definitely take advantage of the mentorship opportunities available. Those involved will be able to advise on matters such as whether your application would have a realistic chance – before you ask for substantial time from your referees, panellists and yourself, and in some cases, about which panel it would be most appropriate to submit to.


Why did you decide to apply for the new Fellowship?

Fellowship signifies the highest level of credentialing available within the veterinary profession. I thought it could only help, as I continue my long-term ambitions to advocate for animals within academic, professional, public and political spheres.

Additionally, I would like to try to inspire those from within my own discipline of AWSEL, if I can. I would like to encourage such veterinarians to achieve at the highest levels. I wanted to demonstrate that awards such as the RCVS Fellowship are possible, and that candidates from my discipline can achieve such awards, if they meet the necessary criteria, similarly to candidates from other veterinary disciplines – including those long established, or more clinically-oriented.


What hopes do you have for the Fellowship moving forward?

Along with several others, AWSEL is a non-traditional veterinary discipline. I hope the Fellowship – as with other areas of the veterinary profession – will increasingly be willing to recognise outstanding achievement and excellence, when it occurs in non-traditional disciplines, or in novel or unusual ways.


What excites you about your future in the veterinary profession?

Historically, our profession had its origins in farmed animal and equine medicine, because animal companions – and the disposable income necessary to support their care – were available only to the wealthiest, if at all. Both historically and contemporaneously, many aspects of the intensive and extensive farming of animals, and other social uses of animals, have been clearly contrary to both their welfare, and also to good ethics. Although our profession has advocated for ‘best practice’ and welfare improvements, it has rarely seriously challenged such social exploitation of animals, in which it has often had a considerable financial stake.

I am excited, however, to see increasing numbers of veterinarians taking much stronger stands against the social exploitation of animals. Veterinarians are becoming more actively involved in animal welfare issues, in farming, transportation, slaughter, research and teaching, entertainment, companion animal ownership, and elsewhere.

Veterinary speciality colleges or disciplines in animal welfare – or the field of Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (AWSEL) as it is now known, within the UK, EU and Australia – were provisionally recognised within Europe and the US, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Several major veterinary conferences have focused on animal welfare in recent years. A number of important veterinary texts dedicated to animal welfare have recently been published, and animal welfare and ethics are increasingly included within veterinary school curricula.

Helping individual animals, and even groups or herds, whilst undoubtedly meritorious, can only advance animal welfare so far. Our greatest potential to help animals is to advocate for changes at societal and systemic levels. I’m excited to see veterinarians increasingly finding their voices at these higher levels. Only by doing so can they truly fulfil their potential to advocate for animals, and maximise their impacts toward achieving a better society, and a better world.