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Friday, June 02, 2023
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Dr. Jane Goodall discusses Tanzania research at Memorial Union

The Wisconsin Union Directorate Distinguished Lecture Series hosted ethnologist Dr. Jane Goodall for a lecture on her studies in Tanzania.

Dr. Jane Goodall, an ethnologist and conservationist, discussed her work with chimpanzees during a lecture in Shannon Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Memorial Union on Sunday.  

Goodall is primarily known for her research on the chimpanzees of Tanzania. Her studies have taken place for over 60 years, in which she immersed herself in the chimpanzees’ ecosystem to observe the primates during their daily routines. 

She has also been involved in a number of conservation efforts, mentored people all over the world, written numerous books and devoted her life to teaching people about the importance of the planet, according to her website, The Jane Goodall Institute.

After 63 years of research, Goodall said she’s still learning new information from the chimpanzees. 

“We’re learning how some behavior is inherited, some behavior comes through experience in the lifetime and we can look at certain genes that really seem to impact all the way down the generations,” Goodall explained. 

Goodall returns to Tanzania twice a year to visit family, check on the progress of her programs and new museum, and get some time to herself in the forest, she said.

“They’re making a whole museum for me, which is going to be one of the most amazing museums in the world, we’ve got America’s number one imagineer working on it,” Goodall said. 

Even with her extensive list of accomplishments, Goodall attributed a lot of her success to her optimistic attitude.

“If I go to speak, the tickets are sold out in record time — it's because I talk about hope,” Goodall said. “People want to hear about hope.” 

All 1,025 in-person tickets for the Goodall event were sold during the first 90 minutes of the student pre-sale, where one ticket per student was available free of charge, according to Madeleine Carr, the Wisconsin Union communications coordinator. Those who were not able to get an in-person ticket were able to view a livestream of the lecture.

The lecture was an hour long with 30 minutes before the conclusions where students could submit questions for Goodall to answer. 

Speakers are chosen by the Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS), one of 11 Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) committees. The DLS is a student-run committee that organizes lectures for students and the public to enjoy.

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Speakers are selected based on nominations or by members of the DLS committee. Members of the public as well as the student body can nominate speakers for a DLS event by filling out an online form.

“We get a lot of nominations that have similar topics or themes, and we want to make sure that we honor those, but we want to make sure that we are making some different ideas throughout the year and with each series,” DLS Director Nathan Baker told The Daily Cardinal of nominations. 

Baker and an associate director selected Goodall after an agency they work closely with recommended booking her during her tour in the United States. After deciding on Goodall, DLS reached out and made arrangements to set up a lecture.

“You read or hear on the television about a program where the area has been renewed,” Goodall said. “Then you think, 'Gosh, we could do that too.'"

Goodall’s philosophy is that sharing the good happening in the world encourages others to do good for the world as well, which is articulated in her book, “The Book of Hope.” 

During the lecture, Goodall explained her past and discussed projects she’s currently working on. At 88 years old, it’s hard for her to get up into the mountains as she once did, so she’s spending much of her time on her youth movement, Roots and Shoots, she said

Dr. Goodall left the audience with the message that, “Each one of us makes an impact on the planet every single day, and we get to choose what sort of impact we make.” 

“We all have a role to play, even if we don't yet know what it is,” Goodall said. “[We must leave a] light footprint on the planet.”

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