Changing the World with Jane Goodall Stories of Impact Podcast
Jun 11, 2024

Changing the World with Dr. Jane Goodall (podcast)

The world-renowned ethologist, activist, and global icon joins Stories of Impact podcast for a discussion that inspires greater understanding and action on behalf of the natural world.

By Templeton Staff

Although one person may feel like they can't make a difference, when millions of people make even small ethical choices in how they live, we change the world.”


Dr. Jane Goodall is known for her groundbreaking studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, which forever changed our understanding of humankind’s relationship to the rest of the animal kingdom. 

Today, almost as many people know the acclaimed primatologist for leading conversations about climate change and conservation as for her revolutionary approach to studying animals.

In this episode of Stories of Impact podcast, Dr. Goodall shares stories from her long career, as well as her current projects, and hopes for the future. Listen with the below player.


Key Takeaways:

The first to study chimpanzees in their natural habitat, Dr. Goodall began her groundbreaking research in Tanzania in 1960, at just 26 years old, and remains the world's leading expert today. She’s the only human to be accepted into chimpanzee society. The influence of her field studies showing that tool use in primates was possible is still felt today.

Starting out as a young woman scientist, Goodall faced not only misogyny, but also outdated   but tightly-held ideas about the sophistication of non-human animal intelligence.

One reason for this was Dr. Goodall’s empathetic approach, which included naming the chimpanzees. “This was at odds with her colleagues’ anthropocentric beliefs,” explains Stories of Impact writer and host Tavia Gilbert. “But even though her careful observation and groundbreaking findings helped expand science that radically challenged human supremacy and assumed limitations of animal cognition, Dr. Goodall doesn’t take the credit.”

Says Dr. Goodall: “It became gradually clear that the chimpanzee is so like us in behavior — kissing, embracing, holding hands, patting one another, males competing, swaggering. They can have a dark side — they can be brutal, kind of primitive, war over territory, but they can also be loving and altruistic.” Discovering this she says “opened the door” for scientists to realize humans are “not so unique after all.” Over the next few decades, exploring the minds and the emotions of other animals began to become more acceptable. “And as I say, now we've got right down to the bees and octopuses and things like that. So, it was the chimpanzees that changed scientific attitude, and I was just their mouthpiece.”

In addition to paving the way for new thought around the diversity of intelligences, Goodall has also helped blaze new trails to further environmental advocacy and planetary health. According to Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), “when Jane discovered that the survival of the chimpanzee’s species was threatened by habitat destruction and illegal trafficking, she developed a breakthrough approach to species conservation that improves the lives of people, animals and the environment by honoring their connectedness to each other. In 1977, she founded JGI to ensure that her vision and life’s work continue to mobilize the collective power of individual action to save the natural world we all share.”

“Never forget that each one of you, all of us, everybody on the planet: every day we make some impact."

Photo: Jane Goodall, by Tim Cole/Templeton Prize

Throughout her decades-long work with animals and JGI, she’s been committed to conservation efforts by prioritizing not just species protection, but also the needs of local communities and the environment. 

At the age of 90, 2021 Templeton Prize Laureate Dr. Goodall is a legendary conservationist, galvanizing educator, UN Messenger of Peace, and an inspiring writer and public speaker. 

“Never forget that each one of you and all of us, everybody on the planet: every day we make some impact. And most of us can choose what sort of impact we make,” says Goodall. “And although one person may feel ‘Well, what can I do? I can't make any difference,’ when millions of people make even small ethical choices in how they live, we change the world.”

Tune in to the episode to hear stories about:

Header Photo: British ethologist Jane Goodall with chimpanzee Freud at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. By Michael Neugebauer/the Jane Goodall Institute.


Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and producer Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.