Tanner Lecture Brings Modern-day Renaissance Man to SUUMarch 01, 2012
Author: Jennifer Burt
Southern Utah University is excited to welcome Jared Diamond, this year’s Grace Adams Tanner Distinguished Lecturer. Diamond’s presentation, “Collapse,” will examine the circumstances and decisions surrounding the success and/or failures of historical societies on Tuesday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m., in the Gilbert Great Hall within SUU’s Hunter Conference Center.
This presentation is based upon Diamond’s best-selling 2005 book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” In it, Diamond examined past civilizations to identify why they either succeeded or, as the title suggests, collapsed; from these findings, he extrapolates important lessons for contemporary societies. He argues ecology’s role as primary in these societies’ demise rather than cultural factors. Among the societies he has examined are the Anasazi, Mayan, Inuit—the Norse of Greenland—Rapa Nui—indigenous to Easter Island—the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Japan and even modern-day Montana.
Diamond, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrity scientist, currently works as a medical researcher and professor of physiology and geology at UCLA. He is best known for his award-winning popular science books which, in addition to “Collapse,” include “The Third Chimpanzee,” “Guns, Germs and Steel.” His work on the latter earned Diamond’s Pulitzer nod.
Given his work and writing across a wide array of fields beyond those in which he was formally trained, Diamond has been described as a “polymath,” or modern Renaissance Man, as his expertise clearly spans many different subjects. True to this persona, Diamond has written on everything from the indigenous fowl of remote islands to discussions of modern societies’ consumption factors, the rate at which people consume resources.
His cross-disciplinary vantage point is well aligned with SUU’s academic values that include a broad exposure to a variety of academic interests to better root any given specialty in a more comprehensive view of the world in which it exists.
Each year the Grace A. Tanner Center for Human Values at Southern Utah University sponsors a distinguished lecture. Funded by the Tanner Trust for Utah universities through the generosity of the late Professor Obert C. and Mrs. Grace A. Tanner, the center seeks to promote access to scholarly and scientific learning in moral, artistic, intellectual and spiritual concepts. The director of the center is Dr. James W. Harrison, professor of German and Humanities.