Scientist Jared Diamond To Discuss Societal Success
One of the world’s most celebrated scientists will explore the connection between sustainability efforts and societal success when he delivers the 2009 Robert D. Swanson Responsible Leadership Speaker Series keynote address at Alma College.
Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, will speak at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 in the Remick Heritage Center. Admission is free and open to the public.
He will discuss “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” which is also the title of his 2005 companion book to Guns, Germs and Steel.
“Jared Diamond is a popular speaker because of his ability to easily explain major patterns in human history,” says Alma College President Saundra Tracy. “His talks routinely draw large numbers of listeners who gain a deeper understanding of the development of human civilization. We are very pleased that he will be visiting Alma College to address our students, faculty and greater community.”
In Collapse, Diamond examines the downfall of some of history’s greatest civilizations, such as the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island, the Maya of Central America and the Vikings in Greenland. Diamond points to environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices as factors in the demise of these societies at times in history when other societies found solutions and persisted.
“In probing why some of the great civilizations of the past have collapsed into ruin, Diamond attempts to identify what we can learn from their fates,” says Murray Borrello, co-director of the Center for Responsible Leadership and director of Alma’s Environmental Studies Program. “He raises the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?
“His talk is relevant to many of the contemporary issues we face today, including global warming, overpopulation, energy and water sustainability, and environmental degradation. It is interesting and more than a little scary when we investigate the uncanny similarities between some of these societies and our present condition,” says Borrello.
Diamond is known for his ground-breaking studies of the birds of Papua New Guinea. His field experiences include 17 expeditions to New Guinea and neighboring islands to study ecology and evolution of birds. He also has been involved in numerous other field projects in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Currently a professor of geography at UCLA, Diamond also is the author of other best-selling books, including The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal and Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality.
He has received some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (“Genius Award”) and the National Medal of Science, America’s highest civilian award in science. In addition, he has been elected a member of all three of the leading national scientific/academic honorary societies: National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
The Swanson Responsible Leadership Speaker Series at Alma College brings prominent leaders to campus for discussions on related topics. Past speakers include former President of Mexico Vicente Fox in 2008, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2007 and former presidential candidates and U.S. Senators Robert Dole and George McGovern in 2006.
The speaker series is part of the Alma College Center for Responsible Leadership, which encompasses a large network of leadership-development opportunities for all Alma students, regardless of academic major or degree.
Posted: Fri, October 2nd, 2009 at 8:39AM