Dr Jessica Groling

Public engagement


Radio appearances


October 15th 2010"Engaging with radical ideas: Active research" - guest on "A Head of the Curve" on Phonic FM

January 21st 2011
"Perspectives on Process: Consensus Decision-Making and Horizontal Organising" - guest on "A Head of the Curve" on Phonic FM

June 3rd 2011
"The Myth of the Neutrality of Freedom - Anarchism and Animal Rights" - guest on "A Head of the Curve" on Phonic FM



Non-academic presentations and workshops

Alternative Vegan Festival (AltVegFest) December 2010
"Researching for advocacy: Freedom of Information and the case of vivisection at UK universities" - workshop on the use of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) as a research and campaign tool for academics and social change advocates

(Please contact me for workshop notes and handouts)

Professional Meetings


Reading group presentations

Exeter Anarchist Reading Group

January 13th 2011
""Perspectives on Process: Consensus Decision-Making and Horizontal Organising" (with Cat Owen)

May 26th 2011
"Anarchism and Animal Liberation: Why neither can ignore the other"  - paper presentation on the philosophical, strategic, and tactical similarities and differences between anarchism and animal liberation



Conference presentations

Nov. 22nd 2010
"Creating Horizontal Spaces Within and Beyond Academia" - a workshop with James King and Christie Smith on tools for activist-academics at the Engaging With Radical Ideas Public Engagement Training Day in Exeter

May 17th 2011, 9.30am
""Cognitive Dissonance in Human-Animal Relations" - paper presentation at the SSIS Postgraduate Conference (theme: tension and cohesion), in a panel on "Advocacy and Exploitation"


In 1954 Eric Hoffer famously stated that “[f]ar more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know”. In this paper I propose that contemporary human-animal relations provide the perfect example for understanding what Hoffer meant. The theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1957) relates to the perception of an inconsistency among an individual's cognitions, which generates a negative intrapersonal state of tension (dissonance). This state of psychological discomfort is alleviated through the implementation of a reduction strategy. Stemming from a recognition that this phenomenon is not merely about individual psychology but rather is an institutionalised and socially normalised collective experience, this paper interweves psychological and sociological factors (Cohen 2001, Robins 1994) to explore forms of knowledge evasion and denial (Robbins 1987, Tester 1997) and mechanisms of rationalisation through victim denigration and the manufacture of “moral sleeping pills” (Bauman 1989). I shed light on the ways in which humans evade knowledge of animal suffering and avoid the displeasure of encountering disturbing information about their ostensibly innocent ways of living through the construction of defensive cultural barriers. The paper briefly deconstructs the institutionalised nature of defensive devices and ideologies, embedded in the collective consciousness, that provide justifications and excuses for animal exploitation (Clark 1984). I conclude by drawing out some of the implications of the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance and ways of coping with it for advocacy campaigns and organisations trying to garner sympathy for an exploited group.


May 19th-22nd 2011
"Anarchism and Animal Liberation: Convergence or Incompatibility?" - paper presentation at the International Animal Rights Conference 2011 in Luxembourg.

Radical social movements are witnessing a degree of political convergence. Increasingly, anarchists are adopting environmentalist and animal-oriented praxis and a growing proportion of animal liberation activists are influenced by anarchist thought, as evidenced by grassroots campaigns as well as contemporary movement literature, which has contributed to a systemic analysis of oppression and argues for the intersectionality of struggles for human and animal liberation. What increasingly unites diverse social struggles therefore is an holistic appreciation of the need to address all forms of imposed hierarchy, though there remains considerable disagreement about what are defined as “necessary” (or “natural”) forms of hierarchy and discrimination, especially where the conflicting interests of the human and non-human worlds are concerned. In this presentation I will critically consider contemporary projects for animal liberation, including ethical veganism as a form of prefigurative politics, within the context of the prevailing state-based capitalist system, and examine what role the suffering of others plays in anarchist philosophy and practice. I will suggest possible reasons for the discord that remains between anarchist and animal liberation struggles, and propose that ethical and strategic debates within the animal liberation movement represent some of the critical fissures within anti-authoritarian thinking and practice in general.

October 15th-16th 2011
""When science speaks, let no dog bark": Moral disengagement in animal experimentation at British universities" - paper presentation at Reconfiguring the 'Human'/'Animal' Binary - Resisting Violence in Prague.
This paper will consider Albert Bandura's theory of moral disengagement (1999, 2002) in the context of university-based animal experimentation licensed under the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. It begins with the assumption that most scientists carrying out harm-inducing experimental procedures on nonhuman animals in laboratories do not enter the profession with a desire to deliberately inflict suffering on sentient beings but become socialised into an institutionalised practice that still necessitates such actions. Bandura's model builds on an interactionist perspective on morality and suggests that through a set of psychosocial mechanisms (moral justification, exonerative comparison, euphemistic language, diffusion and displacement of responsibility, attribution of blame, and dehumanisation, or deanimalisation), moral self-sanctions can be disengaged from harm-inducing conduct, a suggestion supported by much sociological and situationist social psychological literature on harm and violence (Zimbardo 2004, Doris 2002, Arendt 1964, Milgram 1974, Cohen 2001). This presentation will consider Bandura's mechanisms in turn and apply these, together with insights from well-known practice theorists Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault, to a study of animal experimentation at UK universities, focussing particularly on the ethical review process with information gained partly through the Freedom of Information Act (2000). This paper shows how the conditions for mechanisms of moral disengagement are built into the infrastructure, regulatory practices and cultural tools of the industry. As activists lobby and target scientific institutions, medical charities, policy-makers and the public on the issue of animal experimentation, it is hoped that by unearthing how mechanisms of moral disengagement work to entrench and perpetuate the status quo and undermine ethical and lay scrutiny, a useful contribution can be made in the search for points of intervention that take into account that very often “moral argument is not enough” (Pleasants 2011).


March 10th 2012

"Workshop: Research and communication tools for activists and academics" at Critical Perspectives on Animals in Society conference, Exeter University


November 28th - 30th 2013

"Appropriating a moral panic: the British foxhunting lobby and the urban fox" at 3rd annual European conference for Critical Animal Studies, Karlsruhe, Germany 


May 2014

"The urban fox moral panic" at MA Anthrozoology Residential, Exeter, UK.


Involvement in conference organisation

Exeter Anarchist Reading Group (AHRC-funded):

December 22nd 2010
"Engaging With Radical Ideas Postgraduate Public Engagement Training Day"
More details

June 11th 2011
"Re-Imagining Society Together: New Directions in Radical Thought and Practice" - Engaging With Radical Ideas free one-day conference.
More details

March 10th 2012
"Critical Perspectives on Animals in Society" - Postgraduate Conference
Conference Convenor
Funded by University of Exeter
More details


Conference panels convened

Panel Co-convenor at ASA11: Vital powers and politics: human interactions with living things
University of Wales Trinity Saint David, September 13th-16th 2011

Panel topic: "Humans and non-human animals: different moral worlds?"


Conference attendance 2010-present

April 2010
1st Annual European Conference for Critical Animal Studies, University of Liverpool, UK.

December 3rd 2010
ESRC Feminism and Futurity Seminar series. Bristol University.

January 20th 2011
Geography and the New Empirics. UCL.

June 30th 2011
Animals and Public Policy Seminar, launch of the IASJ.

April 16th 2012
Wildlife Seminar, Centre for Animals and Social Justice, University of Leicester.

July 3rd - 6th 2012
Minding Animals II, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

July 4th 2013
Animal Research, Ethics and Public Policy, Centre for Animals and Social Justice, University of Leicester.

September 2013 
Cultural and Literary Animal Studies, Summer School studentship
Würzburg, Germany

November 28-30th 2013
3rd annual European conference for Critical Animal Studies 
Karlsruhe, Germany

Graduate School Skills Workshops


ERDP training sessions

Nov 24th 2010
1087A: Is Research Value-Neutral? Exploring ethical frameworks and research methodologies for sustainability related research.

Jan 2011
Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) Stage 1 - completed

Autumn 2011
LTHE Stage 2 - completed