Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jane Goodall Lecture: A Message of Hope

Science Communication students with Dr. Goodall. Left to right: Justin So, Holly Baker, Julie Fisowich, James Baxter-Gilbert, Dr. Jane Goodall, Kevin McAvoy, Iara Dos Santos, Myles Carter.

Despite wars, pollution, environmental crises and endangered species, there is hope in the world. That was the message from Dr. Jane Goodall’s lecture at Science North’s 10th annual Roots & Shoots conference last week. Dr. Goodall, the world renowned primatologist and UN Ambassador for peace, is the founder of the  program which empowers youth to carry out local social and environmental projects to better the world.

Dr. Jane Goodall explains the program in her book "Reason to Hope". Roots & Shoots “is a symbolic name; roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation; shoots seem new and small, but to reach the light can break apart brick walls. Brick walls of overpopulation, deforestation, soil erosion, ... materialism, cruelty, crime, warfare and all the problems that we humans have inflicted on the planet. The message of Roots & Shoots is one of hope: hundreds of thousands of roots and shoots – young people – around the world can break through. The program stresses the value of the individual – every single one of us matters, has a role to play, makes a difference.”

Over 700 students attended the conference from Sudbury and the surrounding area to take part in a tree planting activity and social and environmental workshops. Our SciComm class volunteered at the conference and attended Dr. Goodall’s evening lecture. She was an amazing speaker and was an inspiration to every person in the room. It made me think, not only about our role in bettering our planet, but why she was such an excellent speaker.

We have been learning about the rhetoric of science (the art of communication and persuasion in science) in our course with Philippa Spoel. There are three modes of persuasion are ethos, logos, pathos, which appeal to a different parts of us to persuade us. A person persuades us when we trust their credibility (ethos) or if we believe their logical and reasonable arguments (logos). We are also persuaded through emotions elicited (pathos) by the speech.

Dr. Goodall uses all these modes of persuasion well, even if she is not aware of it. She has personally seen humanity’s horrific acts (ethos) and provided examples for why we need to change our destructive ways (logos). She told success stories of species and habitats that have recovered to show us that there is hope for the world, and that it is not too late (pathos). These well used modes make Dr. Goodall's lectures compelling and inspiring to her audiences around the world.

I’ll end this post with another passage from her book "Reason for Hope". “Yes, I do have hope. I do believe we can look forward to a world in which our great-grandchildren and their children after them can live in peace... [but] we don’t have much time. The planet’s resources are running out. And so if we truly care about the future of our planet we must stop leaving it to “them” out there to solve all the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me.”

For more information on Jane Goodall or the Roots & Shoots program visit http://www.janegoodall.ca/ and http://www.rootsandshoots.org/

- Justin

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