Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Collaborates with Brenau University on Fall Programming Series

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Series includes a first-ever exhibit of Fossey's possession from her cottage in Africa when she was murdered plus student and public interaction with Fossey scientists and researchers.

Science Symposium: A Conversation from the Field

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Brenau University will celebrate the "Year of the Gorilla" this fall with a series of lectures, seminars and other events, all geared toward understanding the work of preserving endangered species and related critical conservation issues.

The events began this week with the a month-long exhibit of items, many of them never before on public display, that were in the Rwandan cottage of Dr. Fossey, the zoologist, when she was murdered the day after Christmas in 1985. Running through Oct. 20, the library exhibit will be open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. Groups may make an appointment for other times by calling 770-534-6213.

The open-to-the-public and students-only events are part of the Kay and Doug Ivester Endowed Program Series at Brenau.

"This is a unique opportunity for university students to interact with the work of active field scientists in conservation," says Clare Richardson, president and CEO of the Fossey Fund. "It is a wonderful way to introduce important conservation topics and how they are applied in real-world settings."

Dr. Ed Schrader, president of Brenau University, said the joint initiative helps Brenau fulfill its mission not only by providing students insights to global issues but also by providing programs for broader education of the entire community.

"This program series brings to life our commitment to a world view which includes responsible stewardship of our planet and all the life it sustains," said Schrader. "This provides our students, faculty and neighbors in the community an up-close experience with scholars and practitioners working passionately to preserve the gorilla habitats in central and western Africa."

Along with the opening of the library exhibit of Fossey's personal items, the Brenau program series began today as Dr. Tara Stoinski, the Pat and Forest McGrath Chair of Conservation and Research at the Fossey Fund, keynoted the university's first conference on global and local sustainability issues. The topic of her talk will be "Gorillas at the Crossroads: How Science, Economics and Society Interface to Save a Species."

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 the university will host in its historic Pearce Auditorium "Science Symposium: A Conversation from the Field" - a public presentation featuring a panel of Fossey Fund staff, including Stoinski; Dr. Katie Fawcett, director of the Fund's Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda; Felix Ndagijimana, Karisoke's deputy director; Pierre Kakule, co-director of the Fossey Fund's programs in the Republic of Congo; and traditional Congo leader Mwami Alex Kalinda.

In addition, Brenau will be a sponsor of the Fossey Fund's "Gorillas in the Mist" fundraising event Oct. 17 at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. Fossey Fund staff, scientists, celebrities and others will attend this event, which will feature a showing of the film "Gorillas in the Mist," based on Dian Fossey's life and work.

Brenau also will use the work of Fossey and the Fossey Fund as a starting point to help students explore issues related to science, conservation, the environment and global citizenship and related topics. All first-year students in Brenau's Women's College will be required to participate in a four-week series of lectures by Fossey Fund scientists and leading staff:

  • "Nonprofit Leadership and Management in a War Zone," by Clare Richardson, president and CEO of the Fund, Sept. 30.
  • "Reaching the World: Mass Communication in Changing Times," by Dr. Erika Archibald, Fossey Fund director of communications, Oct. 7.
  • "The Role of Community-Focused Programs in Wildlife Conservation," by Congo co-director Pierre Kakule and Congo leader Mwami Alex Kalinda, Oct. 14.

The United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Migratory Species, the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums have joined hands to declare 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. It is part of the United Nations organizations' Decade of Education in Sustainable Development aimed at helping people develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future, and to act upon these decisions. Sustainable development is a vision of development that encompasses populations, animal and plant species, ecosystems, natural resources and that integrates concerns such as the fight against poverty, gender equality, human rights, education for all, health, human security, intercultural dialogue and many other globally entwined issues.

For more information on the Brenau-Fossey programs and Brenau's sustainability initiative, go to http://www.brenau.edu/sustainability.

For more information on the Oct. 17 "Gorillas in the Mist" event in Atlanta, go to http://www.gorillafund.org/about/events_042009_mist.php

About the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International:
The Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa, through research, conservation action, education and partnerships. Founded by Dian Fossey as the Digit Fund and renamed after her death, the Fund operates the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, and maintains a staff of scientists, trackers and anti-poaching patrols in the Volcanoes National Park. The Fossey Fund also operates a conservation action outreach plan, working in conjunction with innovative community-based preserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo, helping to re-establish Congo's Maiko National Park, and participating in other critical conservation and community projects.

About Brenau University:
Founded in 1878, Brenau University currently enrolls about 2,600 students in graduate, undergraduate and preparatory programs in the Academy; Women's College; Evening and Weekend College; and Online College. The main campus of the Georgia-based liberal arts institution is in Gainesville with satellite campuses located in Augusta, Kings Bay and the Atlanta suburbs, Norcross and Fairburn. Brenau's 2010 ranking as one of the top 10 best higher education values in the Southeast by U.S. News & World Report marks the university's fourth consecutive year in that position for the magazine's America's Best Colleges guidebook. Brenau University also has been cited as one of the best colleges and universities to work for by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

David Morrison
Brernau University
dmorrison (at) brenau.edu

Barbara Joye
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
bjoye (at) gorillafund.org


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