Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond speaks for Year of Water on April 6

As parts of Africa suffer continued drought and Japan tries to recover from one of the worst earthquakes and tsunamis in recorded history, scholar-author Jared Diamond will give the Penn community insight into water’s impact on society at a public talk on Wednesday, April 6, at 7 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium.

Sponsored by the Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania, the Office of the Provost and two-dozen student organizations, University schools and centers, the lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are available by lottery at www.philomathean.org/aotickets.

Based on his world-renowned investigations of the rise and fall of ancient societies, his talk, “Washed Up: The Role of Water in the Collapse of Civilizations,” will focus on the impact of humankind’s choices in managing water resources, in conjunction with Penn’s Year of Water.

A recipient of the National Medal of Science, Diamond is a leading scholar of physiology, ecology, conservation biology and history. He is best known for his widely acclaimed books, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” “Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution of Human Sexuality” and “The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.” 

His study of the ruined cities, temples and statues of history’s great, vanished societies—including Easter Island, Anasazi, the Lowland Maya, Angkor Wat and Great Zimbabwe—offers provocative conclusions about their demise. His research has suggested that the social collapses were due in part to the types of environmental problems that beset the world today, and yet many societies facing similar problems do not collapse.

Diamond will discuss what made certain societies especially vulnerable, why their leaders didn’t recognize and solve the environmental problems, and what can be learned from their fates.

His remarks, which will include an audience Q&A session, will be followed by a public reception at 8.30 p.m. for the speaker in the Philomathean Halls on the fourth floor of College Hall. All are invited.

Originally published on March 31, 2011