Human-Animal Schooling

SIUA is the School of Human-Animal Interaction founded in 1997 in Bologna by Roberto Marchesini and Sabrina Golfetto after many years of research within the field of human-animal relationship. Roberto Marchesini is considered a worldwide leading figure in zooanthropology and in cognitive-relational approach to dog’s pedagogy and psychology. The main aim of Siua is creating an up-to-date centre for the education in the activities with other animals, with theoretical and empirical research. Siua looks at the relationship between human and non-human animals through different and new perspectives (for example, ethical and scientific ones) in order to develop the study in animal cognition. In order to accomplish this aim, Siua has created a “Documental Centre on Human – Animal Relationship”, based in Galliera (Bologna), which consists in:

  • a wide library (more than 7000 volumes!) dealing with our relation with other species;
  • the first Italian museum of cards with animal themes;
  • the museum of animal prints;
  • the didactic lab related to nature and animals.

Furthermore, Siua, throughout the years, has promoted theoretical and practical activities in order to enlarge our knowledge of the other species.


Concerning zooanthropology, along its first fifteen years of activates, Siua has organized the prescriptive model of zooanthropological approach or “Canon of Apply Zooanthropolgy” and “Protocol of Didactics Zooanthropology”, which has radically modified in Italy as well as abroad the coordinates to create both pet-therapy project and pet-education activities. This operation resulted in 2002 in a presentation of Carta Modena, the official document of the “good practices in co-assisted therapies by animals”, which has been seen the adhesion of Italian Health Ministry and several public and private authorities. The zooanthropological approach represents an unique experience in the national landscape whose novelty gave birth to “Zooanthropology Manifesto”, a document translated in many languages and spread in several countries where the leading-edge method for the activities with animals has been embranced. The zooanthropological approach overcomes the generalist vision in pet-therapy by indentifying prescriptive guidelines based on the relational dimension connected to the specific needs of the beneficiaries of the practice. Zooanthropology changes the way of considering animals from an objectified vision to a relational one, where they becomes partners of relationships in which they can be engaged into social, educational and co-therapeutic activities. This role, which recognized to animals their own subjectivities and identities, is supported in other two fields of research in Siua:

  • the study of mind and non-human animals’ intelligence and the identification of a different cognitivity;
  • the study of bioethics and the identification of non-human animal as moral patients with inalienable rights.


The research within bioethics is also an other important field of Siua, carried out through the “Research Centre on Bioethics and the Thought of Complexity” and two editorial products. They are called ‘Quaderni di bioetica’ and ‘Questioni di bioetica’ and offer important reflection on data labs with several scholars’ contributions. The main goal of Siua is suggesting a correct relationship with other species and implementing the respect of animal alterity following a logic of the non-human’s integration in human communities. In a biocentric and posthumanist view of a human-animal relationship, Siua has published several works with the aim of leaving speciesism and anthropocentric interpretations which are still in use in all fields of knowledge.

Cognitive science

Concerning the study of cognitive and behavioral science, Siua has deeply modified the landscape of dog’s education and training by introducing a didactic approach in place of the traditional dog’s training based on the chain of stimulus-response. Within cognitive approach educational and learning explanatory models have been analytically developed in order to evaluate the consequences by following a rigorous scientific method. In the last decade, that has resulted in the formulation of the “Guidelines of Evolutive Activities”. This document has been well-received in Italy as well as abroad due to the projects of “dog’s citizenship” and different kinds of partnership activities. Nowadays, Siua research generates many academic handbooks and awareness material. Currently, there are more than 100 evolutive activities in Siua’s programs. During ’90s, Siua carried out the project “Shelter Park” (Parco Canile) in order to transform the traditional shelter into a zooanthropological centre for promoting dog’s adoptabilities. In the last fifteen years, Siua has developed a relational-cognitive approach and has deeply transformed the treatment of behavioral problems. Lastly, important formats for social, education and recreational activities such as “Six Paws Walker” (Passeggiata a sei zampe) or “Cino-vita” have been developed in order to implement dog-trainer’s services to people and local communities.

Roberto Marchesini

He was born in Bologna in 1959. After being awarded of a degree in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bologna, he worked as consultant in projects for animal rights protection and for Animal Welfare of many public and private Italian organizations.

He is considered one of the greatest exponents of zooanthropology, a discipline whose aim is studying the relationship man-animal from a non-anthropocentric perspective. In this context, he promoted and spread projects in applied zooanthropology funded by the Italian Ministry of Health. In addition, he coordinated several research groups in order to analyze the relational and dialogic value of animals in our society.

He became professor at the beginning of 2000s and has taught courses in zooanthropology, animal welfare and cognitive ethology in several Italian universities. He also held speeches and conferences in various foreign universities and research institutes (Chile, Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, France, etc.) promoting his disciplinary approach outside the national borders. Great connoisseur of the animal world in all its incarnations, he is a prominent figure in the international cognitive ethology. In fact, he has attributed an active and performing role to the animal, which was instead considered a mere executor of automation in ancient times and also by the classic ethological and the behaviorist approaches. He is also a historical Italian activist for animal rights.

He began working as an activist in the early ’80s, becoming a key figure in the Italian landscape of animal rights with his text-investigation on the intensive farming ‘Oltre il muro’. He continued his activities in the ethologic and philosophical field developing a thought able to redefine the role of non-human animals in a non-anthropocentric way. He is the founder of the cognitive-zooanthropological approach in canine education and pedagogy and he is the director of Siua, the School of Human-Animal Interaction, based in Bologna. Siua is an educational institution at the forefront for education, canine education and didactic, welfare zooanthropology. More than thousand people have been formed by Siua in the last fifteen years and they provide a network operating all over Italy and abroad.

Marchesini achieves the most surprising results in the social, didactic and welfare application of the relationship with pets, accrediting Siua as an pivotal institution not only in terms of education but also in terms of services.  Since 2000, important projects of education created in Siua have been implemented in schools, with the recognition of the Ministry of Health and Education. Furthermore, pet therapy projects, directly coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, involve psychiatric-judicial hospitals and detention centers.  Author of more than hundred scientific publications, his work in the field of ethology and veterinary includes:

  • L’identità del cane (2002 Apeiron and soon republished)
  • Pedagogia cinofila (2007, Perdisa)
  • Intelligenze multiple (Perdisa, 2008)
  • Modelli cognitivi e comportamento animale (2011 Eva Editions)
  • Miglioramento della qualità della vita della persona con Alzheimer, Fondazione Manuli, pp. 27-32
  • Apprendimento animale: nuovi modelli di spiegazione, in Praxsis veterinaria, v. XXXIV, n. 1, March 2013, pp. 7-14.

With ‘Post-human’ (2002) he has become one of the most important representatives in the Italian philosophical landscape. He is author of more than fifty publications in academic journals and books.

Currently and further international projects

The main aims of our international activities are:

spreading the approach of Siua in ethological, zooanthropological and philosophical fields by working on

  • publications;
  • attendances at international congresses;
  • implementing fellowships in foreign Institutes.

Selected publications in peer-reviewed International Journal:

    • R. Marchesini, (2013) A Cognitive-Relational Approach to Animal Expression: Revisiting Cognitive Paradigms, in Methode. Analytic Perspective, Torino, pp. 156 – 171. Available here.
    • Marchesini, R. (2013), ‘A Re-examination of Epistemological Paradigms Describing Animal Behaviour in 8 Points’, Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism Vol.1 n. 2, pp. 69 – 77. Available here
    • Marchesini, R., (2013), Mimesis. The hetero-specific as Ontopoietic Ephifany, in Past, E. M, Amberson, D, The animals and the Posthuman in Itlian Literature and Film, New York Pelgrave McMillan.

      For an up-to-date list of publications please

visit Roberto Marchesini’s page.

Selected International Congresses attended:

  • University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, Minding Animal International Conference – June 2012 Domestication and Epimeletic Character of Men.
  • University of Dubrovnik, Croatia – September 2012, Beyond Humanism Conference Series,  Beyond Anthropocentrism.
  • Università Roma 3 – September 2013 Beyond Humanism Conference Series, Hybridizations At the roots of the anthropopoietic process.
  • ICAS 3rd EU Conference for Critical Animal Studies – Karlsrhue (Germany) November 2013, Anthropo-decentralizations” Nonhuman alterities and the post-human project.
  • ISI Congress – International Institute of Semiotic (Lituania) – June 2014


For any queries related to foreign activities of Siua or Roberto Marchesini’s International projects, please feel free to contact: Dr. Eleonora Adorni, MA in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology (Alma Mater Studiorium, Bologna) with a dissertation topic in human-animal interaction.

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