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50 years of chimps and change


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When Dr. Jane Goodall enters room 856 in the University of Calgary's anthropology department, you can hear a pin drop. The student provided moniker "rock star" seems to jar with the soft spoken primatologist. And yet it's a title that suits Goodall's iconic status as the one of the world's leading conservationists. Every journalist, administrator and student in the room is hanging onto her every word.

"I think it's quite extraordinary that we're celebrating 50 years of a study that I began in 1960," Goodall quietly begins. "How the many hundreds of thousands of students have come to realize that humans are not the only beings on this planet with personality, mind and feeling."

Goodall pioneered research on chimpanzee behaviour and produced a wealth of scientific discovery that launched world-wide interest in humanity's closest relatives. Her vision has since expanded into a global mission to empower people to make a difference for all living things.

Fourth-year anthropology student Joshua Friesen was one of the lucky few who got to talk to Goodall in person.

"She obviously still believes in what's she doing and convinces other people to too," Friesen reflects. "There's a deeper philosophic connection perhaps between all primates and between humans and their environment in general, and that some answers can't come from humans alone.

Fifty years after setting foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, in what is now Gombe National Park, Goodall is sharing her journey of discovery and conservation in person with Calgarians this Sunday. In her presentation, 50 Years of Chimps & Change, Goodall will reflect on her journey of discovery and conservation over the past five decades.

Presented in partnership by the University of Calgary and the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, 50 Years of Chimps & Change, takes place Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010 at the Jubilee Auditorium.

Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 to support her research work in Gombe. Today, the institute has evolved into a dynamic international organization that supports wildlife research, conservation and education around the world. Proceeds from the presentation will go towards the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and the Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program in Canada. Roots & Shoots is global youth action program that operates in more than 120 countries. There are more than 400 active Roots & Shoots groups in Canada, working on hands-on action projects to benefit humans, animals and the environment in their communities.

Alicia Blair, a fourth-year geography student intends to involve her daughter into Roots & Shoots and tell her all about Jane Goodall. "I'm just going to relay to my daughter the importance of understanding that we're not people independent on this Earth; we're a system of animals. We need to work together. And so we need to live more sustainably...That's kind of a lot to portray to an eight-year-old," she laughs.

Goodall's living legacy runs deep among U of C's anthropology researchers and students. Here, conservation research has become an inevitable and prominent aspect of the study of non-human primates. The largest program of its kind in Canada and the only one to offer a Bachelor of Science in anthropology with a concentration in primatology, the U of C currently operates four long-term primatology research sites in Belize, Costa Rica, Ghana and Madagascar. Dr. Mary Pavelka, head of the anthropology department, says students come to the U of C's anthropology department because of its reputation, but they begin by being inspired by Jane Goodall.

To learn more about the U of C's anthropology department, visit: http://anth.ucalgary.ca/