Western taps Goodall to receive honorary degree

Adela Talbot // Western News

Famed British primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall will receive an honorary degree from Western University at a special Convocation ceremony on Wednesday, April 25.

Famed British primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall will receive an honorary degree from Western University at a special convocation ceremony on Wednesday, April 25.

“The awarding of an honorary degree is the highest honour Western can bestow upon an individual and there is perhaps no greater living scientist in the world that deserves this honour more than Jane Goodall,” said Amit Chakma, Western President and Vice-Chancellor. “Dr. Goodall has inspired generations of scientists and her trailblazing work with chimpanzees in Tanzania has contributed an extraordinary level of discourse and knowledge to the international scientific community.”

The Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute first set foot in the forests of Tanzania in 1960, armed with little more than a notepad, a pair of binoculars and a dream of living in Africa and observing wildlife. From the moment she witnessed a chimpanzee make a tool to the moment she decided to leave the park in order to save the chimpanzees she cared for, Goodall has made countless extraordinary scientific breakthroughs in animal behaviour while becoming one of the world’s most prominent and active conservationists.

Goodall attended Cambridge University, where she received a PhD in ethology in 1965, becoming only the eighth person in the university’s long history who was allowed to pursue a PhD without first earning a baccalaureate degree. Her doctoral thesis, Behavior of the Free-Ranging Chimpanzee, detailed her first five years of study at the Gombe Reserve.

Her efforts to educate people about the ethical treatment of animals extends to young children as well. Her 1989 book, The Chimpanzee Family Book, was written specifically for children, to convey a new, more humane view of wildlife. The book received the 1989 Unicef/Unesco Children’s Book-of-the-Year Award, and Goodall used the prize money to have the text translated.

In recognition of her achievements, Goodall has received numerous honors and awards, including the National Geographic Society Centennial Award in 1988, and the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences in 1990. More recently, she was named a Messenger of Peace by the United Nations in 2002 and a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. In 2010, she received the International Golden Doves for Peace award.