Presidential Lecture Series
Presidential Lecture Banner
Dr. Jared Diamond
Pulitzer-Prize Winner and Author of Collapse
"An afternoon with Dr. Jared Diamond"
January 28, 2008
Apollo Room, Student Union
Jared Diamond is universally regarded as one of the great minds of our time. His Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel, has been a runaway best-seller, and the top selling science book on Amazon.com for five years running. Now,Collapse, his follow-up book has landed on the major best-sellers lists as well and is drawing critical reviews.
Currently a professor of Geography at UCLA, he is also the author of two other best-selling books, The Third Chimpanzee andWhy Is Sex Fun? He has received some of the most prestigious awards the world has to offer. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation genius grant, the Conservation medals of the Zoological Society of San Diego (1993), the Carr Medal (1989), and Japan's International Cosmos Prize (1998). In 1999, President Clinton bestowed the USA's highest civilian award in science, The National Medal of Science, for Dr. Diamond's landmark research and breakthrough discoveries in evolutionary Biology. In 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, in recognition of his tremendous contributions to the field of conservation biology.
The breadth of his interests and expertise is truly remarkable, ranging from environmental history through evolutionary biology to molecular physiology. With Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond explained the environmental and geographic reasons why certain human populations have flourished. In his newest book, Collapse, he uses these same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. The book was an instant best-seller and has drawn critical accolades on a par with, if not even better than, the landmark Guns, Germs and Steel. Dr. Diamond's body of work has also been the subject of a PBS special: Great Minds of Science: Evolution.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The ruined cities, temples, and statues of history's great, vanished societies (Easter Island, Anasazi, the Lowland Maya, Angkor Wat, Great Zimbabwe and many more) are the birthplace of endless romantic mysteries. But these disappearances offer more than idle conjecture: the social collapses were due in part to the types of environmental problems that beset us today.
Yet many societies facing similar problems do not collapse. What makes certain societies especially vulnerable? Why didn't their leaders perceive and solve their environmental problems? What can we learn from their fates, and what can we do differently today to help us avoid their fates?
Guns, Germs and Steel
Dr. Jared Diamond's blockbuster bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel won him a Pulitzer Prize and a place as one of the most influential thinkers of our time. His lecture of the same name takes audiences on an intellectual odyssey that challenges our assumptions about the rise and fall of civilizations. Dr. Diamond asks and answers a very simple question: Why did Europeans and Asians conquer the indigenous peoples of Africa, the New World, Australia and the South Pacific, instead of being conquered themselves?
The answer touches on technology, genetics, genocide, zebras, pestilence, weather, geography, and luck. It also unconditionally refutes racist dogma that claims biological superiority for Eurasians. Geographical accidents, not intelligence, seem to be the reasons for Eurasia's success. Audiences will walk away with profound insights into how we got where we are and what this may mean for where we are going. Entering an intellectual maelstrom, they will be discussing and debating these ideas for months to come.
Globalization: For Better or For Worse
Until September 11th of 2001, we equated globalization mostly with 'us' sending 'them' our modern accomplishments: the Internet and Coca-Cola. Now, we are painfully aware of the unpredictable and reciprocal nature of global contact: AIDS, terrorism, unstoppable illegal immigration and diabetes epidemics. What will globalization really bring the world, and how can we minimize its negative impact while continuing to benefit from the advantages of shared cultures and resources?
Globalization means that remote societies can no longer collapse without influencing the rest of the world (as with Easter Island and the Anasazi societies of many centuries ago,) and we are the first society in history with the chance to develop using a comprehensive contemporary and historical understanding of our collective path.
Office of the President
260 University Hall