National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

The Templeton World Charity Foundation and the National Geographic Society Launch Initiative To Find and Fund Three Rising Scientists In Honor Of Templeton Prize Laureate Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE

Dr. Goodall was honored at the Templeton Prize event with an announcement of the Society’s global search to find and fund promising researchers of animals in the wild, who will follow in the steps of the renowned ethologist.

The Templeton World Charity Foundation is excited to share that during the event to honor Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, with her 2021 Templeton Prize Laureate medal — Inspiration and Hope: Living a Life of Purpose — it was announced that National Geographic Society has received a 2.7 million USD grant to work with them to find and fund the “next Jane Goodalls.”

Dr. Goodall, the winner of the 2021 Templeton Prize, gave a keynote lecture and spoke in conversation with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour this evening at the Natural History Museum in London at her first public appearance since the COVID pandemic. The Templeton Prize, valued at more than $1.3 million, is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards. Established by the late global investor, philanthropist and founder of the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton World Charity Foundation, and Templeton Religion Trust, Sir John Templeton, it is given to honor those who harness the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.

Unlike past accolades given to the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace and world-renowned ethologist and conservationist, the Templeton Prize specifically celebrates Dr. Goodall’s scientific and spiritual curiosity. The Prize rewards her unrelenting effort to connect humanity to a greater purpose. “Her observations have profoundly altered the world’s view of animal intelligence and enriched our understanding of humanity in a way that is both humbling and exalting, said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation. “Ultimately, her work exemplifies the kind of humility, spiritual curiosity, and discovery that my grandfather, John Templeton, wrote and spoke about during his life.”


It is in the spirit of Dr. Goodall that the National Geographic Society was funded to identify and support three scientists whose passion for and discoveries in wildlife field research have the potential to illuminate unknown wonders of our world and help shape the future of the field. “Dr.  Goodall continues to be an inspiration to generations of scientists. Her impact on the field of animal behavior and cognition, including so many scholars that we support, is widely felt. This grant in honor of her legacy is particularly important in this moment as we expand outward from the human experience to find other ways of knowing, experiencing, and flourishing that will in turn inform our own lives,” said Templeton World Charity Foundation President Andrew Serazin. “The Society is an excellent partner in this endeavor as their long history of supporting National Geographic Explorers will help to find a group of scientists that will mirror the impact of Dr. Goodall’s long career and further our understanding of the richness of intelligences that exist in nature.”

This initiative will support these individuals working with wild creatures on land or sea, each seeking answers to questions on a range of biological and behavioral topics, and each studying a different species, selected from across the diversity of animal life. Like Dr. Goodall herself, they will be curious and driven, passionate about their research, their subjects, and the natural world, and eager to create new knowledge. These individuals will possess a desire to connect with diverse audiences and enable global audiences to see the natural world and ourselves with fresh eyes, new empathy, and a more complete understanding.

The National Geographic Society played a pivotal role in supporting the legacy and impact of Dr. Goodall’s research and bringing her work and stories into the international spotlight since her first grant in 1961.

“Now, 60 years after first funding Dr. Goodall, the Society is immensely proud to consider her work some of the greatest we’ve ever supported — and her story one we are honored to continue sharing,” said the Society’s Chief Executive Officer Jill Tiefenthaler. “We hope to build on her legacy by identifying three new scientists who will gather much-needed insights into animal intelligence and explore deep questions of the universe — and humankind’s place and purpose within it — before more species are lost.”

Dr. Goodall’s Templeton Prize lecture proved to be the perfect platform to announce this exciting opportunity. “I can identify closely with the motto that Sir John Templeton chose for his foundation, How little we know, how eager to learn, and I am eternally thankful that my curiosity and desire to learn is as strong as it was when I was a child,” she said when accepting the 2021 Templeton Prize. “I understand that the deep mysteries of life are forever beyond scientific knowledge and ‘now we see through a glass darkly; then face to face.’”

Dr. Goodall’s legacy extends beyond her research. As a conservationist, humanitarian and advocate for the ethical treatment of animals, she is a global force for compassion, a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and an icon to millions around the world. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in 1977 to continue her work to study and protect chimpanzees while also improving the lives of local communities through education and training. Goodall has devoted her life to educating audiences of all ages around the world about animal welfare and conservation.

Despite being grounded by the pandemic, her influence and popularity have grown with her virtual participation in events and lectures around the world. Since March 2020, Dr. Goodall has spoken to thousands of people in more than 150 countries, communicating on the global crisis and the connections between the rise of zoonotic diseases, biodiversity, sustainability, poverty, and humanity’s relationship with nature. At the same time, she launched a podcast, The Hopecast, from her attic studio at her childhood home in Bournemouth, England, and at the age of 88 is reaching millions of people through social media.

Dr. Goodall received the 2021 Templeton Prize in celebration of her remarkable career, which arose from and was sustained by a keen scientific and spiritual curiosity. Raised Christian, she developed her own sense of spirituality in the forests of Tanzania, and has described her interactions with chimpanzees as reflecting the divine intelligence she believes lies at the heart of nature. In her bestselling memoir, A Reason for Hope, these observations reinforced her personal belief system—that all living things and the natural world they inhabit are connected and that the connective energy is a divine force transcending good and evil.

Goodall is the first ethologist and the fourth woman to receive the Templeton Prize since its inception in 1972. The Templeton Prize winner is selected following an extensive selection process that mobilizes an anonymous group of expert nominators from a diverse cross-section of fields, followed by a rigorous ranking process through a panel of judges, who have included royals, former presidents, scientists, and religious leaders.
Goodall joins a list of 50 Prize recipients including St. Teresa of Kolkata (the inaugural award in 1973), the Dalai Lama (2012), and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2013) and geneticist and physician Francis Collins (2020), Director of the National Institutes of Health and leader of the Human Genome Project, for his demonstration of how religious faith can motivate and inspire rigorous scientific research. Other scientists who have won the Prize include Martin Rees (2011), John Barrow (2006), George Ellis (2004), Freeman Dyson (2000), and Paul Davies (1995).

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About the Templeton Prize
Established in 1972, the Templeton Prize is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards. It is given to honor individuals whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it. Currently valued at 1.1 million British pounds, the award is adjusted periodically so it always exceeds the value of the Nobel Prize. Winners have come from all faiths and geographies, and have included Nobel Prize winners, philosophers, theoretical physicists, and one canonized saint. The Templeton Prize is awarded by the three Templeton philanthropies: the John Templeton Foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and by the Templeton World Charity Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust, based in Nassau, The Bahamas. To learn more, visit TempletonPrize.org

About Templeton World Charity Foundation
Templeton World Charity Foundation, established by Sir John Templeton in 1996, supports a diverse group of researchers to discover new knowledge, develop new tools, and launch new innovations that make a lasting impact on human flourishing. We support projects that will form a robust pipeline of innovations aimed at improving key aspects of human flourishing. Our strategy is not just about making interesting discoveries but also about translating those discoveries into practices that can be rigorously tested and launched for the benefit of individuals and communities. To learn more visit templetonworldcharity.org.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.