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About the Event
Many animals learn, from elders, almost everything about how to become who they will be; getting answers to questions of “How do we live where we live;” leaning survival traditions that define their existence. In other words: culture. In this program, Ecologist Carl Safina will discuss his observations of culture in free-living sperm whales, scarlet macaws, and chimpanzees. Culture is the skills, behaviors, preferences, and attractions that are learned from others and passed to others. Culture stores information in pools of knowledge that pass through generations like a torch. An individual receives genes only from parents, but can receive culture from everyone in their group. In many other animals as in humans, culture causes individuals to come together into groups, and causes groups to avoid one another. Culture in other species has been overlooked but it has important implications ranging from conservation to evolution. Culture creates a sense of family, culture creates living beauty as potential mates choose beautiful mates, and culture gives group living animals the skills to get past conflict and achieve peace.
Carl Safina’s lyrical non-fiction writing explores how humans are changing the living world, and what the changes mean for non-human beings and for us all. His work fuses scientific understanding, emotional connection, and a moral call to action. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew, Guggenheim, and National Science Foundation Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He grew up raising pigeons, training hawks and owls, and spending as many days and nights in the woods and on the water as he could. Safina is now the first Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He hosted the PBS series Saving the Ocean, which can be viewed free at PBS.org . His writing appears in The New York Times, TIME, The Guardian, Audubon, Yale e360, and National Geographic, and on the Web at Huffington Post, CNN.com, Medium, and elsewhere. Carl is the author of ten books including the classic Song for the Blue Ocean, as well as New York Times Bestseller Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel. His most recent book is Becoming Wild; How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace. He lives on Long Island, New York, with his wife Patricia and their dogs and feathered friends.
We are grateful to the Bank of America for their generous support of this virtual lecture.
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