Jane Goodall accepts honorary degree from Western

Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace, received an honorary degree from Western University on Wednesday at a special convocation ceremony.

A new research award will support Western graduate students following in her footsteps

Jane Goodall accepts an honorary degree at Western University for her research on chimpanzee behaviour. (Paul Mayne/Western News)

World-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall received an honorary degree from Western University on Wednesday at a special convocation ceremony.

The 84-year-old chimpanzee researcher accepted the degree with an impassioned speech about the obstacles she has overcome to get to where she is today. She encouraged members of the audience to consider the impact that even the smallest of our actions make.

"We've got one planet planet earth. How is it that the most intellectual being that has ever walked this planet is destroying it?" Goodall said. "If we start making ethical choices then we shall move toward a better world."

New research award

Following Goodall's speech, Western announced the creation of the Jane Goodall Research Award.

The $5,000 award will provide financial support to graduate students interested in how the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada is affecting ape populations abroad.

Audience inspired

Sam Trosow, of the faculty of law, said he found it inspiring to sit so close to such an important public figure.

"Some of the things she said were just so important that I hope the university takes [them] very seriously," he said.

11-year-old Anika Renaud was also inspired by Goodall's speech.

Goodall took a few questions from the audience including one from Renaud who asked about how it felt to have people doubt her.

"I thought it was a really, really touching ... and good message," said Renaud. "I think I'll take [what she said] further in life."

Goodall began researching chimpanzees in Tanzania in the 1960s.

She's since founded the Jane Goodall Institute, opened Africa's largest chimpanzee sanctuary and rehabilitation centre and published more than 20 books on her discoveries.