A Nobel Peace Prize for Jane Goodall

A Nobel Peace Prize for Jane Goodall

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Myron Shekelle started this petition

A Nobel Peace Prize for Jane Goodall

"the global face for global peace"

October 8, 2018

     Last week, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced two new deserving winners of their Peace Prize.  We write to make the case that the Nobel Organization should award the next Peace Prize to Jane Goodall. With exceptionally broad support among the peoples and nations of the world, she will be one of the most popular Nobel Peace Prize laureates ever.  Indeed, since awards are not made posthumously [1], we urge that Jane, now 84 years old, be awarded this honor before it is too late.  Were that to happen, we feel it inevitable that she would immediately rank alongside Gandhi [2], and a small handful of others, as the most noteworthy people who were overlooked for the prize. 

     Jane Goodall attracted world-wide attention in the early 1960s with a series of paradigm-shifting discoveries that showed astounding humanness in wild chimpanzees.  Writing at the time, Louis Leakey succinctly summarized the singular importance of her discovery of chimpanzee tool-use: “we must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as human [3].”  Jane Goodall’s work on wild chimpanzees inspired a re-evaluation on a global scale of what it means to be “human” and what it means to be “animal”.  This led directly to a new appreciation of the shared destiny that all humans have with all nature, and how in the inevitable and increasing conflicts between us and them, we must greatly expand our definition of “us” for human civilization to survive.  We must see ourselves as partners not only with other humans, but also with chimpanzees and all the other creatures who walk, swim, crawl, and fly on the face of the earth.  If we are to survive and prosper, the “we” that survives must be a very big “we”, one which includes both us and them, and indeed, the whole planet.  This one consciousness-elevating discovery is arguably the largest step science has ever made toward a truly global peace.

     The 1960s imprinted upon the global consciousness that spring could be silent, that our Earth is a lonely blue marble, and that for all our works, our similarities with animals are far greater than are our differences.  Has it ever been the case that a scientific discovery has ever contributed as much to world peace as have those of Jane Goodall?  Even if one were to collect a small handful of discoveries that might rank alongside those of Jane Goodall, then has it ever been the case that the scientist then set aside a successful scientific career and committed the remainder of her life to inspired humanitarian efforts that promote peace among humans, peace between humans and nature, and peace between the natural living world and the physical world?

     Jane Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 and has developed it into a global conservation organization with branches in more than two dozen countries, promoting its core values on all six inhabited continents: to respect, nourish, and protect all living beings with the understanding that people, animals and the environment are all interconnected [4].  In 1986 Jane Goodall was moved to set virtually everything else aside, and devote her time to thousands of public speeches that have brought this message to all corners of civilization.  By discussing her work with chimpanzees, the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, and her belief that knowledge leads to understanding, and that understanding encourages individuals to act, she has shown through her example that one person – every single individual – can make a difference, and has urged each of us to do our part to make a better world.  Through these face-to-face interactions, through her films, books, and her National Geographic articles, she has brought her message of peace directly to more people, perhaps, than has any other messenger of peace in history. Indeed, for much of her life, Jane Goodall was the world’s most recognizable scientist to the public. Recognizing that the values of sustainability must be a part of early learning to change humanity’s unsustainable practices, Jane Goodall founded the youth environmental education organization Roots and Shoots in 1991 to foster respect and compassion for all living beings, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire every individual to act to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.  Roots and Shoots has grown enormously, with more than 150,000 members in 130 countries [5].

     Jane’s message to us is that there are no substitutes for peaceful coexistence. For humans, who have the power to destroy the Earth, its inhabitants, and all types of landscapes, peace is something far greater than merely the lack of warfare among humans.  Rather, the notion of peace includes the vitally important quest for a sustainable coexistence of humans with the living and nonliving world around us.  A Nobel Peace Prize for Jane Goodall underscores that humans must not be at war with nature, but rather that true harmony and peace is only possible when humans live sustainably on our planet.

     Plainly stated, Jane Goodall is an obvious choice for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Currently a United Nations Messenger of Peace [6], Jane Goodall has already earned accolades for her humanitarian efforts far too numerous to list here.  We draw attention to her efforts that rightfully earned those awards. By dedicating her life to spreading her message of peace, by sharing her compassionate environmental insights of the unity we share with this magnificent and fragile planet, Jane Goodall has helped to build a future where there will be enough, such that no one is left without and peace may reign.  In doing so, Jane Goodall has done more and better work than any living person to promote fraternity among nations and to fulfill the explicit conditions in the will of Alfred Nobel for his prize dedicated to peace.

     Biographic Statement: We are a group of scientists and conservationists who urge a grassroots campaign to support Jane Goodall for a Nobel Peace Prize.  We encourage qualified nominators to nominate her, and for the rest of us to sign on to this statement.

     Conflict of Interest Statement: Many of us know Jane as a colleague, and some know her as a collaborator, but only two of us work directly for her.  None of us anticipate any direct reward for supporting this effort.

Links to facts and quotes:


[1] “Work produced by a person since deceased shall not be considered for an award. If, however, a prizewinner dies before he has received the prize, then the prize may be presented. https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_organizations/nobelfoundation/statutes.html#par4

[2] “Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate” https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/gandhi/

[3] http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2003/04/jane-goodall/goodall-letter-text

[4] http://www.janegoodall.org/our-story/

[5] https://www.rootsandshoots.org/about3

[6] http://news.janegoodall.org/2016/09/15/peace-day-we-are-each-messengers-of-peace/

Authorship: Myron Shekelle [1], Herbert H. Covert [2], Craig Stanford [3], Russell A. Mittermeier [4], and others listed alphabetically (see below)

[1] Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington USA

[2] Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

[3] Professor, Department of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

[4] Chief Conservation Officer, Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin TX, USA

Rebecca R. Ackermann. Director, Human Evolution Research Institute. Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Andie Ang, President, Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore)

Marc Bekoff, author

Camille N. Z. Coudrat, Director, Project Anoulak, Lao PDR

Richard W Byrne, Emeritus Professor, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, UK

Ramesh Boonratana, Director, Natural Sciences Program, Mahidol University International College, Thailand.

Jae C. Choe, President, The Biodiversity Foundation, Seoul, Korea

Todd Disotell, Professor, Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York, USA

Shun Deng Fam, Tutor and Course Co-convenor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Izeni Pires Farias, Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Brazil

Harry W. Greene, Emeritus Professor and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

Colin Groves (posthumous), Professor Emeritus, School of Archeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Tomas Hrbek, Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Brazil

Kevin D. Hunt, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Lynne Isbell, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, California, USA

Shadrack Kamenya, Conservation Director, the Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania

James Loucky, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington USA

Linda F. Marchant, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, OH, USA

William McGrew, Honorary Professor, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Fabiano R. de Melo, Professor at Forestry Enginneering Department, Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV), Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Jim Moore, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, California, USA

Carsten Niemitz, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Forensic Human Biology,
Mölln, Germany

Le Khac Quyet, Research Associate, Southern Institute of Ecology - Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam

Christian Roos, Senior Scientist, German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Goettingen, Germany

Noel Rowe, Founder and President, Primate Conservation, Inc., Charlestown, Rhode Island, USA

Nadine Ruppert, Head of Primate Research and Conservation Lab, School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 USM, Penang, Malaysia

Wes Sechrest, CEO, Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin, TX, USA

Jatna Supriatna, Professor of Conservation Biology and Director, Institute for Sustainable Earth and Resources, University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia

Patricia Wright, Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Anthropology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, USA

Juichi Yamagiwa, President, Kyoto University, Japan

Kelly R. Zamudio, Goldwin Smith Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA


151,565 have signed. Let’s get to 200,000!
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