The legacy of Jane Goodall

Legendary ethologist speaks at TRU

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

Jane Goodall spoke as part of TRUSU's Common Voices Lecture Series on March 24, 2014. Mark Hendricks/The Omega

Jane Goodall spoke as part of TRUSU’s Common Voices Lecture Series on March 24, 2014. Mark Hendricks/The Omega

She greeted the audience with a series of chimpanzee calls. How could she not? Any other greeting would have been dishonest and dismissive of her years of research. For her, it only made sense. It seemed appropriate and natural. For Jane Goodall, it certainly was.

Goodall spoke to a packed audience and was streamed to multiple overflow rooms at TRU on Monday, March 24, as part of the TRUSU Common Voices Lecture Series.

Goodall’s talk focused around the state of the world, the mess of a state it is in, and what people can do to change it. Goodall related the talk to her time in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania where she spent 50 years researching the social structures of chimpanzees.

“[The world] is getting worse. There’s more awareness, but awareness doesn’t seem to be leading to action,” Goodall said . “People are aware there’s an awful lot going wrong and they don’t try and do anything about that. I think that’s because they feel helpless, they don’t know what to do.”

Goodall blames this lack of demonstration and hope on a sense of apathy among today’s youth due to a feeling of hopelessness. Today’s youth has a feeling that nothing they do matters and they need empowerment through support and encouragement, according to Goodall.

“I think the only possible solution lies with students around the world. In the ‘60s, the students were out there demonstrating and doing things,” Goodall said. “And that’s beginning to happen again, but not like it used to.”

To this end, Goodall started Roots and Shoots, a volunteer group for students that operates in more than 120 countries and was a large focus of her talk. Roots and Shoots is a group where students create their own projects to undertake various conservation or humanitarian efforts.

“The energy of all these young people who are taking action is very inspiring,” Goodall said. “And with the human brain, the resilience of nature and the indomitable human spirit we have all the ingredients for success. We have to fight apathy and fear.”

Goodall believes that Roots and Shoots has the potential to change the world. She believes it can be a lasting force.

“Part of the legacy will be better understanding the nature of animals and respect, and getting new legislation in place for protection – but more importantly changing attitudes,” Goodall said. “That’s what Roots and Shoots is about. I think [it] will be my main legacy.

In an interview with The Omega before her lecture, Goodall shared how she’ll measure the success of her visit to TRU.

“If we don’t get a group after my visit, I shall count my visit as worthless,” she said.

Goodall’s advice was mainly geared towards students, but some of it was more universal. The capitalist culture bears some of the blame for the state the world right now – the worship of money, as Goodall put it – and people must be more responsible about what they buy.

“Start thinking about the consequences of what we buy, what we eat, what we wear – where did it come from, how is it made, did it involve child slave labor, why is it so cheap?” Goodall said.

“Once people start thinking like that, they naturally do make different choices.”