Emory Report
September 15, 2008
Volume 61, Number 4



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15, 2008
Diamond to probe societies’ rise and fall

From staff reports

Jared Diamond, best-selling author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will present the 2008 Goodrich C. White Lecture “How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” on Oct. 15.

The free public lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

Diamond, a professor of geography and physiology at UCLA, has captivated readers and audiences by his powerful narratives of the rise and collapse — and tenuous future — of human societies. Ranging across the disciplines of ecology, anthropology, linguistics, history, geography, physiology and genetics, he follows in the great intellectual tradition of such scientist-writers as Stephen Jay Gould and Lewis Thomas. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, he is also the author of “The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.”

Gary Hauk, deputy to the president and chair of the White Lectureship Committee, said that the committee had zeroed in on Diamond because he meets the lectureship’s aim of appealing to a broad spectrum of the University community.

“Every generation has its polymath interpreter of where we are and where we’re headed,” says Hauk. “In my undergraduate days it was Buckminster Fuller. Today it’s Jared Diamond.”

Sponsored by the DVS Senior Society and the President’s Office, the White Lecture was established in memory of Emory’s 14th president, a 1908 graduate of Emory College and later dean of the College and vice president of the University. White served as president from 1942 until retiring in 1957.

The lectureship, which has been dormant for more than a decade, is being re-inaugurated after an endowment campaign by DVS alumni, who raised $250,000 for the purpose.

This year’s lecture also benefits from support by the Emory Program in Linguistics.