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
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.

Jane is so inspirational and I learned a great deal about incremental ways to participate in conservation and the environment. The first few lessons about Jane's experiences with primates were fascinating and I would have preferred more lessons devoted to this subject matter.

I've learned about strategies that I can employ to help with conservation efforts and animal welfare. More than anything, I am inspired to act!

Wao!!! it´s beeing amazing. Jane is inspiring and jet grounded to earth. This has helped me with a documentary i´m making about the monkeys in Panama and to understand more deeply how to be a conservationist.

First, I had no idea that rats are being used to sniff out illegal wildlife products - that is great. I found Dr. Goodall's positivity infectious and appreciated her concept of collective small efforts.


Scott W.

'm majoring in television production at a community college in Nova Scotia, Canada. I've got a lot of life experience for a 42 year young man. My nine year old daughter seeks to pursue life as a veterinarian on account of my including her in my volunteer work at Hope For Wildlife a few years ago. Hope for Wildlife is a wildlife rehabilitation center that caters to an extremely wide array of raptors, birds of prey, small mammals, waterfowl, local felidae and canidae (bobcats, coyotes), reptiles and amphibians, several native species or even non native species blown in with storms. Occasionally, a member or two from the order chiroptera would come in needing assistance. My duties there included: assist in the animal's capture, safely contain (for human and creature sake), assist with treatment (while following instruction of those who know) as well as their maintenance and release. I suspect I know the latin names for around 60 species. Most of them reptilia from the boidae and pythonidae families. Not bragging, establishing my knowledge base. I can identify several species of snake by eye, and have survivals skills of a soldier (as I was once one). I've volunteered with Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, and also have experience in wildfire firefighting. I didn't put these experiences on my resume because I don't want anyone to be able to say I was doing it (volunteering at a wildlife rescue with a tv show), for attention. I was doing some background acting at the time, and didn't want anyone claiming I was anything less than authentic. Steve Irwin was and still is an inspiration to me, as is Dr. Goodall. I see this Masterclass lesson discussion, as opportunity to offer my skills to stop poaching. I have a valid passport and desperately seek to make some kind of significant difference in the world before my time expires on Earth. I want my children to bear witness to wild fauna in it's natural habitat. My resume as well as a list of skills learned, is at the bottom the main page of my website at Please let me know if/how I can be of benefit, service or assistance to stop illegal poaching.

Diana H.

I enjoy hearing her point of view as a scientist on the division of the clever mind and love and compassion of the heart. As we use up our own resources we want to take them from the developing world. Materialism and greed that divides us from the natural world our home on planet earth. Studies on the human brain show that one of the differences between humans and primates is our empathy. Hopefully we can master our greed with our compassion and our intelligence. Great class!

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.