Jane Goodall is known for her work in studying chimpanzees. (Photo Credit: Jeekc via Wikimedia Commons)
Dr. Jane Goodall is known for her work in studying chimpanzees. (Photo Credit: Jeekc via Wikimedia Commons)

BY LINDSEY DESMET, Guest Writer

World renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall made a visit to Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena on March 28. Goodall’s presentation was introduced by CMU president George Ross as a part of the university’s speaker series.

After greeting the audience “in chimpanzee,” Goodall focused on the theme of “Making a Difference,” discussing her early life and how she came to work with chimpanzees as well as the many projects that her organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, has founded along the way.

“Jane Goodall’s talk about primate behavior was very interesting and her devotion to preserve and restore species and the environment is inspiring for all to do meaningful work,” said UM–Dearborn Anthropology Club member Gina Damitio.

Goodall is most well known as the woman who discovered tool use in chimpanzees. She began studying chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park in 1960 with the encouragement of the late anthropologist Louis Leakey.

It was only after furthering the world’s understanding of chimpanzees and their learned behaviors that Goodall received a college degree.

“I got to Cambridge and the professors told me I’d done everything wrong,” Goodall said of the University’s reaction to her naming and recognizing emotion in her subjects. “You cannot share your life with a dog, a cat, a pig […] and not realize that the professors were wrong.”

While she still visits Africa and her beloved Gombe forest at least twice each year, Goodall now travels and gives lectures 300 days per year in order to spread her message of caring about the planet and its non-human inhabitants.

Goodall stressed the importance of getting involved in environmental activism. She believes that humans think only of ourselves and how our lifestyles affect us in the present, with no regard to how our actions affect the environment or the world’s future.

“We haven’t borrowed the planet from our children. We’ve been stealing,” Goodall said.
The event was free of charge and open to the public. Tickets could be picked up at CMU’s Ticket Central box office or ordered by phone for a small shipping fee.

Several University of Michigan – Dearborn students made the two and a half hour trek to CMU to see Goodall speak. While some students drove on their own, carpools were also organized by the UM – D’s Association of Student Anthropologists and Environmental Club.

“I came away from the speech with a feeling of hope and inspiration,” said Anthropology Club member Kimberly Oliver.

A short question and answer period followed Goodall’s speech, as well as a book signing. Jane Goodall Institute memberships, books and merchandise were available for purchase on site.