For more than half a century, Dr. Jane Goodall has stood as an internationally prominent primatologist and anthropologist, as well as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. In the past several decades she has traveled across continents speaking and working on behalf of wildlife, and is set to bring her message to Oakland University.
The event, "An Evening with Dr. Jane Goodall," will begin at 7 p.m. today, Wednesday, March 27, in the O’rena on Oakland’s campus. Dr. Goodall will share her experiences and speak on “Sowing the Seeds of Hope.”
Dr. Goodall's career is a storied one. She first arrived in the African continent as a young girl in 1960, accompanied by her mother. Almost immediately, she met the famed archaeologist and paleontologist Louis S. B. Leakey, who hired her as an assistant to study wild chimpanzees in Tanzania.
Dr. Goodall would spend the greater part of the next forty years at that site in Gombe National Park, and make several tremendous breakthroughs that would alter then-current scientific views on the nature of chimpanzees.
With global climate change, an ever-present energy crisis, and dwindling natural resources, the world is a very different place than it was when Dr. Goodall began her studies. Yet she still finds reasons for hope. In a letter on the Jane Goodall Institute’s website, the famed adventuress places her faith in the human brain, the indomitable human spirit, the resilience of nature, and the determination of young people.
Dr. Goodall’s impact and achievements can measured in many ways. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977, to contribute the preservation of great apes and their habitats through research and education, promote sustainable living in local communities, and to create a worldwide network of young people. The latter goal formed the building blocks of the “Roots and Shoots” organization, which was established with the help of 12 Tanzanian teenagers in 1991.
In 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace. In 2004, Dr. Goodall was named a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of knighthood, and in 2006, she received France’s highest recognition, the French Legion of Honor.
Dr. Goodall’s work has been honored with the Medal of Tanzania, the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal, Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, UNESCO Gold Medal Award, and the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence.
Dr. Goodall is the author of 14 nonfiction books on her research and experiences and 10 children’s books, many of which have been translated into dozens of languages, sold across several continents and earned numerous awards. To date, there are more than 18 films and documentaries about her work and life.
Dr. Jane Goodall's lecture is presented as part of the Varner Vitality Seminar Series, named in honor of Oakland's first chancellor, Durwood "Wood" Varner. This series aims to energize and sustain the highest academic and scholarly aspirations of the university community. Previous speakers include Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former president of India, and Dr. Madeleine Albright, the U.S.’s first female Secretary of State.
The Varner Vitality lecture is sponsored by Academic Affairs, Student Life Lecture Board, and the Oakland University Alumni Association. For more information, or to request special assistance to attend this lecture, please contact the Center for Student Activities at (248) 370-2400.