Business, Politics & Society

Humans & The Environment

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 12:24 min

Learn about the moment Dr. Jane turned from scientist to activist, and how she uncovered many problems facing chimps and humans.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
In 29 lessons, Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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People often ask me, why did you leave Gombe? Because after I got my PhD, after I built up the research station, they were the most amazing days of my life. I had time to be out in the forest. I had time to analyze my data, which I loved doing. I had time for writing popular books. I had a son by then, a little boy, who was with me in Gombe. --And still learning things about these amazing chimpanzees, with time to spend with them every day. It happened in 1986. I had just published this book, Chimpanzees of Gombe, Patterns of Behavior, which was meant to be the first in partner books. The second one was going to be infant development and family relations, but I'm afraid now that will never get written. But anyway, when I published that book, Dr. Paul helped me, who at that time was heading the Chicago Academy of Sciences. --Said, Jane, this warrants a conference. Let's find out what we do know about chimpanzees. Let's bring together the different people studying chimpanzees. I think about six study sites in Africa at that time. And some of the people studying chimps in noninvasive captive situations. He wanted to do all the apes. And I said, look, can't we just stick to chimpanzees? --And at that time, including bonobos, which were called pygmy chimpanzees. So he agreed. And it was in October 1986. It was mostly about people talking about different aspects of chimp behavior in different areas, and differences of different habitats and so forth. --Different cultures and so forth. But we had one session on conservation, and it was shocking. It was absolutely shocking, because everywhere people were showing slides or movies of the destruction of the forest habitat. Chimpanzee numbers that were dropping. That was the beginning of the bushmeat trade, that's the commercial hunting of wild animals for food. Chimpanzee being caught in the wire snares set by hunters for mostly Bush pigs and antelope. There was the live animal trade, in which chimpanzee mothers were shot so that their babies could be stolen to sell for entertainment, circuses, zoos, and at that time, medical research. At the same conference we had a session on conditions and some captive situations, and we learned about the very cruel training of chimps used in entertainment. And that was secretly filmed footage of chimpanzees, our closest relatives, in medical research laboratories. --Five foot by five foot bear cages, surrounded by bars on each side overhead and below. And I couldn't sleep for nights after that. So I went to that conference as a scientist. --This wonderful life, planning to continue to go on learning about chimpanzees in Gombe. And without making any conscious decision, I left us an activist, because I knew I had to try to do something for these chimpanzees who had already given me so much. [MUSIC PLAYING] I began to learn a lot ...

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There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to this MasterClass I've learnt of several new methods of conservation and have began making a more active effort to encourage those around me to help better the environment as well.

It's given me great reasons for hope, ideas to try and reaffirmation that my small daily efforts in conservation do add up and make a difference

The class was profoundly motivational and empowers to care for both your fellow humans and the environment.

An incredible story of resilience and empowering individuals to create small changes every day that can add up to create a great impact.


Gabriela L.

Those medical research that torture and kill chimps are just criminal. They should be legally prosecuted.

Gabriela L.

Those medical research that torture and kill chimps are just criminal. They should be legally prosecuted.


To this point in the course I am feeling blessed to have these lessons. What an amazing opportunity. Jane’s views on animal intelligence make me feel much better about things I believe about animals in general and more specifically horses and dogs. I don’t wNt to stop watching, Thank you so much for this course, R. Pearce, Ph.D.

Qingyi D.

The only way to change mindset is through educating young people, and I think the solution is, not through top to down, not through down to top, but through peer influence. Young & leading. Being an activist doesn’t mean being unrelated and extreme, but it requires some level of passion. Born and raised in China, I studied education and fashion in the U.S. Having my passion towards fashion + my background, I started a handcrafted tote bag brand in Los Angeles to challenge the way we (over)consume. Most people heard about “fast fashion”, but don’t know the true cost behind. For example, people have that mindset that we can buy something cheap and trendy, and replace it with something new after a couple of months. Not only in fashion but literally any industry, growing fast is so normal that people don’t know what’s abnormal. p.s. Feel free to reach out to me and advice me on brand message/story telling or anything. Ig:bigwhitetote

Laetitia M.

I agree on incorporating empathy and intuition as a major aspect for growth in scientific world mindset. I loved this lesson. Thank you !

Andrew Stephen L.

I wonder how many millions of tree’s are brought into people’s homes every year across the whole world? Certainly in the thousands if not millions! That’s a lot of free forests! People might have to pay a small fee for the land to plant it on but what better a gift to have given at Xmas ! I have seen your video Dr.Jane Goodall on saving our world with more forests.Here is one solution that perhaps would work on that idea x

Andrew Stephen L.

I think we need to focus on what solutions we could find that are most viable in today’s world. Reforestation seems the most logical choice and since every Christmas millions of people bring a tree into their home,perhaps we could have trees that could be bought in a pot and then collected after Xmas and planted alongside thousands of others to get more people interested in reforestation and to grow huge forests almost for free-it would only take a small premium to be added to the purchase price of the tree,for it to be collected and planted. We could call them ‘Christmas Forests’. x

Louanne F.

The saddest part of our lack of concern for the environment now is - we were the generation that had it right! We've spent the last generation developing new behaviors like recycling, pollution control, etc. and now it seems that science is just, as Al Gore said, "an inconvenient truth." It's frightening to see how many people in power just choose to pretend that these issues aren't true, and don't require immediate attention. I loved her statement about how can the most intellectual beings that live on the planet destroy our only home. I have been trying to convince people that I know who choose to ignore science that even if they don't embrace the science, it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the only planet we can live on. I hope Jane has some good ideas to help us all move in that direction. You can see how devastated she is personally when she talks about these issues, compared to her joy at talking about the discoveries of the chimps and other animals having intelligence, etc.


Very thought provoking. She is shedding some very candid light on issues that have long been ignored in continual favour of materialism and selfishness. It's not about what we can get out of the world, it's about what we can give back and more importantly leave behind for those that follow us and our follow creature. A great lesson.

Svanfridur M.

This is what I've been preaching to my peers for years now, and it's great to hear someone else saying it and actually getting the word around. All animals are selfish and greedy, it's an evolutionary advantage to be so. But with our intelligence, we now have the ability to combat that with foresight and altruism, to have self-control. The real question is, can we do it? Chimps may not be able to, but with our power, we certainly can. The medical testing being conducted on chimps reminds me of the tests that were once conducted in the U.S. on Africa/African-American slaves. For both groups, the testers assumed them lesser, yet recognized them as being close enough to their patients to use as test subjects. Yet there is a huge hypocrisy in this! Just as white doctors knew slaves were physically just like their fellow Caucasians, yet still refused to see them as the same as the white man, we are now doing the same with chimps. I'm not saying that animal testing is bad (I would gladly put a group of people under the bus to say, cure cancer), I'm a pure utilitarian, just that if we are going to do it we must recognize how similar chimps are to humans, and so treat them just as we would human test subjects. We can't shoot mothers to steal their children, we can't put them in horrible conditions (it would also be great if we advanced the education of chimps being considered for use in testing to the point where we could even gain consent from them through sign language​ if that's even possible). By testing on them, we are recognizing them as being the same as us, and so they must be treated as such.