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A short presentation

Our goal is to strengthen the animalist movement by building a sustainable dynamic in universities, first in France, then worldwide. Because universities are a breeding ground for students capable of long-term reflection and commitment, and because they are at the forefront of major cultural, social and political movements in many countries, they have an important role to play in the fight against speciesism and animal exploitation.

The Sentience Network is a network of local anti-speciesist student associations, each run on a volunteer basis. The Network was very dynamic from 2013 to 2017, with branches (antennas, chapters) in the main cities of France, as well as in Quebec and Ireland, then frayed over the years after the departure of its director, who was not replaced, leaving only Sentience Rennes in 2023.

For the moment, we’re a collective of 4 people working collegially to relaunch it at the beginning of the 2023 school year, this time with the aim of putting it on a professional footing. We’ve already set up a branch in Grenoble in October 2023, and five new branches are due to open in 2024; we’re actively looking to set up others in about fifteen French universities. We are currently working on a volunteer basis, but two of us will be hired on a part-time basis from July 2024, with subsidies from the French government.

What does the network do?

The network’s mission is to support the creation and development of Sentience student associations (based on the model of Sentience Rennes) on each campus, with three goals:

– to raise students’ awareness of animal ethics, animal exploitation, and effective altruism,

– to encourage students to dedicate their careers to the animal issue,

– to encourage the development of vegan options in university catering.

Our theory of change details the importance of training the future leaders of tomorrow’s animal rights movement, but also the central role that students and universities can play in the cultural change we seek.

What have the Sentience associations done since 2013?

A history can be consulted (History of Réseau Sentience actions 2013-2024), which lists the events organized from 2013 to February 2024.

  • Sentience chapters have contributed to the development of plant-based alternatives on campus. For example, in 2016, Sentience Lille secured the installation of a 100% plant-based alternative in a university restaurant serving almost 2,000 students, which has been in operation since then.
  • More than 50 conferences were organized, most of them dedicated to criticizing speciesism and the exploitation of animals for food. They were attended by up to 200 people.
  • Constant media visibility through radio interviews and newspaper articles. For example, in this article from Le Monde (France’s leading daily newspaper) on vegetarian offerings.
  • Some activists have become involved in animal advocacy through the Réseau Sentience and now play an important role in the animalist movement. For example, Mata’i Souchon, former animator of Sentience Lyon, is today the organizer of the World Days for the End of Speciesism or the End of Fishing, as well as the Estivales de la question animale; David Faucheux, founder of Sentience Rennes in 2014, is today the president of CAP – Convergence Animaux Politique, a pro-animal political lobby. Axelle Playoust-Braure, of Sentience Lille, founded the leading magazine on speciesism, L’Amorce, and is now a journalist who writes on animal issues for many major newspapers. Others work for flagship organizations such as L214 or PAZ, and have organized militant annual meetings, etc.

Why relaunch the Sentience Network?

We decided to take over the Réseau Sentience rather than create another organization. We benefit from its rich history, with more than 250 public events organized since 2013 in the universities of Lille, Lyon, Paris, Dublin (Ireland), Trois-Rivières (Quebec), and Rennes (see the History of Réseau Sentience actions 2013-2024). Three of the four people who relaunched the Réseau are or have been animators of Sentience antennas, so they are well aware of the advantages and difficulties they will encounter. The fourth person has been an activist for thirty years and, in addition to a wealth of experience, has a very extensive network in the French and international animalist field. Thanks to these combined experiences, we are fully aware of the difficulties inherent in a network of student associations, but also of its extraordinary potential for the animalist movement. To avoid falling back into the initial problem (the network’s inactivity), we want to relaunch it on a professional basis, with a permanent board of directors (made up of branch representatives, alumni and staff).

We also want to raise awareness and train international students to become players in the movement in their own countries, and we’re thinking of hiring regional managers who will be responsible for developing the network in their region of the world, initially in India and the USA. To achieve this, we will work in close synergy with the World Day for the End of Fishing and the World Day for the End of Speciesism, which have links with several hundred organizations around the world.

We are cost-efficient in that only a few people working at the Network level are paid, while local branch representatives work on a voluntary basis  (self-management is excellent training for group initiative and management). In addition, for reasons of democracy, efficiency and training, much of the management of the network is gradually being taken over by representatives of the local branches.

What are our ambitions?

In the medium and long term, this project aims to achieve the following results (see our Development Plan):

– Dozens of active antennas in France, followed by the massive development of antennas in other countries.

– Thousands of actions organized by Sentience antennas to raise awareness of the arguments for veganism and against speciesism;

– Tens of thousands of students made aware of animal ethics and vegan diets thanks to Sentience chapters;

Hundreds of students who have discovered and enjoyed animal advocacy and decided to become long-term animal advocates or even dedicate their careers to animal advocacy (in associations, or as academics, researchers, journalists, politicians, etc.);

– Hundreds of thousands of animal-free meals served in university cafeterias;

– As a result of all of the above, a stronger cultural attack on animal exploitation, a decline in speciesism in society, and thus a higher probability of seeing the end of animal exploitation in the coming decades.

This was a brief introduction to the Network, its mission and ambitions. We are of course available for further information: any questions are welcome!

Valentine Deneuville, David Faucheux, Mata’i Souchon and Yves Bonnardel

(For the time being, we are the architects of the renewal of the association; our team)


Development Plan

Our Team

List of Sentience Network events 2013-2024

Cultural struggle, cultural change