Course Provides Veterinarian with Insight and Language for Sustainability
Veterinarian Jørgen Kragsig Olesen has recently completed a course that places sustainability for veterinarians in an international perspective and provides insight into how veterinary expertise can be utilised in the green agenda. He believes that as a veterinarian, he should develop his understanding of sustainability because changes in agricultural structure, new green policies, and corporate demands are challenging the traditional role of veterinarians in a new world. Therefore, individual veterinarians should future-proof their skills.
Sustainability and the green agenda are becoming increasingly prominent in society. With an imminent CO₂ tax on agriculture in Denmark, new ESG requirements, and climate incentive models in major companies and financial institutions, a modern veterinarian should also be able to comprehend, advise, and navigate international understandings of sustainability. At least, that's the opinion of cattle veterinarian Jørgen Kragsig Olesen from Kvægdyrlægerne Midt.
"I need a different vocabulary than just my own, and I need to understand how the language used by veterinarians in the field aligns with the ways others discuss it. Large international companies talk about things in one way. Farmers talk about it in another way, and politicians in a third. I want to contribute my knowledge in all arenas. To do that, I also need to know something about those arenas by understanding what I work with from a global perspective."
He has been working as a veterinarian since 1992 and experiences professionally, as well as personally, that it can be challenging to articulate his expertise when new agendas emerge.
"I experienced it with my own 20-year-old daughter, who came home from a long educational journey and now wants to live a vegetarian lifestyle. Her encounter with other cultures, interesting people, and new ways of doing things changed her perspective – and I respect that. But with my expertise, I also need to be able to talk to her on equal terms, discuss based on my insight and my worldview about why I work with animals for food," says the veterinarian from Midtjylland and continues:
"I grew up on a cattle farm, and it's in my DNA that I should work with animals. It was natural for me to become a veterinarian, and I also believe that it's natural for us to have cattle in the future. But for that reason, I also need to understand sustainability from an international perspective – to future-proof my own work. I can't take my job and my profession for granted."
Jørgen Kragsig Olesen has sought this perspective, among other things, in the fall of 2023 through the course "A Veterinary Approach to Sustainable Food and Farming" through the international veterinary network VetSalus. A course consisting of 10 modules, which can be completed in 30-50 hours through online learning, providing an introduction to international sustainability models and how it influences the work of a veterinarian.
Jørgen chose to enhance his knowledge of sustainability through the course because he can see that societal development requires veterinarians to take matters into their own hands – both politically and when it comes to finding meaning in their own professional lives.
"We are entering a time of significant changes in animal production – which undoubtedly will also affect the work of many veterinarians. Many veterinarians have opinions on many of the green agendas – but the discussions and opinions often stay within their own circles. However, the future requires us to speak across the value chain and perhaps also with the broader population, especially if we want to have a meaningful job in the future," says Jørgen Kragsig Olesen.
Jørgen Kragsig Olesen believes that veterinarians have a unique position as academics and practitioners. The comprehensive understanding gained in combination should not only be applied in the barn but also in new roles.
"If, for example, large companies are going to qualify animal welfare in their animal products, or if we are going to teach our profession in high schools or agricultural schools, we need to have a sustainable perspective," says the experienced veterinarian.
Jørgen Kragsig Olesen has yet to submit the final report for the course before receiving the official LANTRA certificate. The course is based on the concept of One Health, which unites the understanding of healthy animals, healthy people, and a healthy environment. "A Veterinary Approach to Sustainable Food and Farming" has run four cohorts to date , with a total of approximately 100 course participants from around the world, including 7 Danish veterinarians.
Facts about "A Veterinary Approach to Sustainable Food and Farming"
An online course for veterinarians and paraprofessionals specialising in production animals worldwide. The course includes:
- 10 modules and is expected to take between 6 and 9 months through distance learning
- Content developed by Vet Sustain in collaboration with VetSalus
- Opportunity for LANTRA-accredited certification
- Teaching through quizzes, assignments, and recommended readings
- Topics include sustainable practices, global agricultural systems, and regenerative agricultural principles
- Participants engage in international communities, live online tutorials, and forum opportunities that promote discussion and knowledge sharing.
Enrolment opened on Wednesday 29th November 2023 with the first live tutorial scheduled Wednesday 24th January 2024. To enrol on the course please visit learn.vetsalus.com. For any further enquiries please contact Megan Williamson [email protected].