Pioneering Canadian ethnographer Wade Davis has joined the University of British Columbia to advance global awareness of cultures and ecosystems at risk.
Davis, best known for his work among indigenous societies worldwide, has served as National Geographic Society’s Explorer-in-Residence since 1999. He is the author of several best-selling books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, which was made into a major Hollywood motion picture, and Into the Silence, which won the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize, one of the world’s top non-fiction prizes.
[Editors: Wade Davis is available for media interviews today from 10-11 am PST (1-2 p.m. EST) via Vancouver press conference at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and international teleconference. See registration details below.]
“I am thrilled to return to British Columbia to join a university so committed to advancing the understanding and celebration of the world’s cultures, ecosystems and biological heritage,” says Davis, who was born in Vancouver. “I feel honoured to have this chance to collaborate with so many inspired UBC colleagues and the broader community to advance these crucial issues on a global stage.”
While Davis has lectured at leading universities around the world, this is his first ever appointment as professor. He will arrive at UBC in July 2014 as a professor in the Department of Anthropology and research associate with the Museum of Anthropology, and will be based at the Liu Institute for Global Issues.
“Very few public intellectuals have the experience and command the respect that Wade Davis does to weigh in on the critical decisions facing our province and nation,” says Gage Averill, dean of UBC’s Faculty of Arts. “Wade Davis will bring his uniquely valuable and interdisciplinary contributions to educating the next generation of students of cultural and environmental sustainability. We are thrilled that he has chosen UBC as his home base for this next phase of his career.”
Davis’ research and teaching activities will be broadly interdisciplinary, encompassing public education, advocacy and policy impact. His teaching duties will be for half of each academic year to permit extensive research and outreach in the field.
Davis holds degrees in anthropology, biology and ethnobotany from Harvard University and has received numerous honorary degrees.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Wednesday, Dec. 18
Press conference for Vancouver media
- Time: 10 a.m.-10:35 a.m. PST (1-1:35 pm EST)
- Location: UBC Museum of Anthropology, Great Hall
- RSVP for press conference to firstname.lastname@example.org
Teleconference for national/international media:
- Time: 10:35-11 a.m. PST (1:35-2 p.m. EST)
- USA/Canada toll free: 1-855-353-9183, participant code: 71466#
- Outside North America: Country code +800-9358-7111, followed by participant code (71466#)
- RSVP for teleconference to email@example.com
- A high resolution of photo of Wade Davis is available for download here
- Photo credit: Ryan Hill
BACKGROUND: Wade Davis
Acclaimed conservationist and science broadcaster David Suzuki has called Davis “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.”
Davis began his career as a plant explorer and ethnobotanist, spending four years in the Andes and Amazon while making some 6,000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of “zombies.” His recent work as a scholar and advocate has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Botswana, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia, the high Arctic of Nunavut and Greenland.
Davis is the author of some 20 books and more than 200 scientific and popular articles for such publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Harpers and Scientific American. He has received numerous awards for his writing, photography and conservation efforts. His books have appeared in 18 languages and sold more than a million copies worldwide.
Davis has been a professional speaker for more than 25 years, lecturing at leading global universities, including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and M.I.T. He has given multiple TED talks and in 2009 delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, later published as The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, an international best seller.
Davis’s photographs have been widely exhibited, appearing in some 30 books and more than 100 publications, including National Geographic, Time, and Outside. He was curator of The Lost Amazon, first exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, and currently touring Latin America. In 2012 he served as curator of No Strangers: Ancient Wisdom in the Modern World, an exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
Since joining the National Geographic Davis has written, produced and hosted 18 documentary films. In 2008 he starred in the 3D IMAX documentary Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, where he travelled down the Colorado River with Robert Kennedy Jr. to bring international attention to water conservation efforts.
His most recent books include Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest (2011), an international bestseller, The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and the Nass (2011), and River Notes: A Natural and Human History of the Colorado (2012).
Until recently, when not in the field, Davis and his wife Gail Percy and their two daughters have divided their time between Washington D.C. and the Stikine Valley of northern B.C. They now live on B.C.’s Bowen Island.