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Survival Symposium

Our species is facing an unprecedented set of challenges, including global climate change, exponential population growth, and emerging diseases. Examining these and other challenges using the lens of evolution is necessary to understand why we confront them. Evolutionary perspectives can help guide us in building a better, safer and more survivable future.

On September 22, 2016, The Leakey Foundation presented Survival, a symposium that brought together seven world-renowned speakers and researchers for an inspiring evening of short talks moderated by Emmy Award-winning journalist Miles O’Brien. Watch and share these videos featuring Ruth DeFries, Daniel Lieberman, Stuart Pimm, Steven Pinker, Pardis Sabeti, Daniel Schrag and Richard Wrangham. 

The Survival Symposium – 2016

Session One
Survival: A Changing World
Session Two
Survival: A Changing Species
Panel Discussion
Survival: Panel Discussion

Featured Presentations

Introduction with Miles O’Brien
Survival: Miles O'Brien Introduction
Biodiversity and Extinction | Stuart Pimm
Survival: Biodiversity and Extinction | Stuart Pimm
Evolution of an Urban Animal | Ruth DeFries
Survival: Evolution of an Urban Animal | Ruth DeFries
Climate Change | Daniel Schrag
Survival: Climate Change | Daniel Schrag
Evolution in Humans and Pathogens | Pardis Sabeti
Survival: Evolutionary Forces in Humans and Pathogens | Pardis Sabeti
The Human Diet | Richard Wrangham
Survival: The Human Diet | Richard Wrangham
The Exercise Dilemma | Daniel Lieberman
Survival: Evolution and the Exercise Dilemma | Daniel Lieberman
Past, Present, and Future of Violence | Steven Pinker
Survival: The Past, Present, and Future of Violence | Steven Pinker

About Our Speakers

Moderated by Miles O’Brien and featuring:

  • Ruth DeFries – Professor of Sustainable Development, Columbia University
  • Daniel Lieberman – Chair and Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
  • Stuart Pimm – Professor of Conservation Ecology, Duke University
  • Steven Pinker – Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
  • Pardis Sabeti – Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
  • Daniel Schrag – Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, Harvard University
  • Richard Wrangham – Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University


Survival is presented by The Leakey Foundation in partnership with Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary BiologyNOVA, NOVALabs, SMASH, and WGBH.

I [name], of [city, state ZIP], bequeath the sum of $[ ] or [ ] percent of my estate to L.S.B. Leakey Foundation for Research Related to Man’s Origins, Behavior & Survival, (dba The Leakey Foundation), a nonprofit organization with a business address of 1003B O’Reilly Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94129 and a tax identification number 95-2536475 for its unrestricted use and purpose.

If you have questions, please contact Sharal Camisa Smith sharal at 

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