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Our species is facing an unprecedented set of challenges, including global climate change, exponential population growth, and emerging diseases. 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. 

Our Tribal Nature Symposium – 2019

The Survival Symposium – 2016

Session One:

Session Two:

Panel Discussion

Featured Presentations

Introduction with Miles O’Brien

Biodiversity and Extinction | Stuart Pimm

Evolution of an Urban Animal | Ruth DeFries

Climate Change | Daniel Schrag

Evolution in Humans and Pathogens | Pardis Sabeti

The Human Diet | Richard Wrangham

The Exercise Dilemma | Daniel Lieberman


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.

Further Reading

Ruth DeFries

Planetary Opportunities: A Social Contract for Global Change Science to Contribute to a Sustainable Future

Daniel Lieberman

The Danger of Treating Symptoms Instead of the Cause

This Harvard professor explains why we were born to resist working out

Steven Pinker

The World Is Not Falling Apart

Stuart Pimm

Global patterns of terrestrial vertebrate diversity and conservation

New Jaw-Dropping Statistic on Extinctions and Hope for Biodiversity’s Future

Pardis Sabeti

The 100 Most Influential People: Pardis Sabeti

Tracing the Ebola Outbreak, Scientists Hunt a Silent Epidemic

How a Pandemic Might Play Out Under Trump

Dan Schrag

What’s next for climate change policy

Targeting the ills of climate change

Richard Wrangham

Cooking Or Slicing Food: What Drove Early Human Evolution?

Without fire?


Event Photos