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Sunday Platform – Carl Safina: “Becoming Wild: Animal Cultures”

June 21, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Many animals learn, from elders, almost everything about how to become who they will be; getting answers to questions of “How do we live where we live;” leaning survival traditions that define their existence. In other words: culture.

Culture is the skills, behaviors, and attractions that are learned from others and passed to others. Culture stores information in pools of knowledge that pass through generations like a torch. An individual receives genes only from parents, but can receive culture from everyone in their group. And because culture improves survival, culture can quickly lead where genes must slowly follow.

In many other animals as in humans, culture provides group identity, causes individuals to come together into groups, and causes groups to avoid one another. Culture in other species has been overlooked and under-appreciated, but it has important implications ranging from evolution to conservation.

Read Carl’s recent article: “How do animals learn how to be, well, animals? Through a shared culture”

Carl Safina is best known for lyrical non-fiction writing about nature and conservation. His work explores how humans are changing the living world, and what the changes mean for non-human beings and for us all. His work fuses scientific understanding, emotional connection, and a moral call to action. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim, and National Science Foundation Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He grew up raising pigeons, training hawks and owls, and spending as many days and nights outside and on the water as he could. Safina’s studies of seabirds earned him a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. He then spent a decade working to ban high-seas drift nets and to overhaul U.S. fishing policy.

Safina is now the first Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He hosted the PBS series Saving the Ocean. His writing appears in The New York Times, TIME, Audubon, Yale e360,andon the Web at National Geographic, Huffington Post, CNN.com, and elsewhere. His books include the classic, Song for the Blue Ocean. Carl’s most recent book is, Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel. He lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Patricia and their dogs and feathered friends. His most recent book is, Becoming Wild; How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace. More at CarlSafina.org and SafinaCenter.org.

FREE and open to the public.

Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest.  Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day.  While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public.  Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.

To view previous Sunday Platform addresses and interviews, visit the Ethical NYC YouTube channel.


June 21, 2020
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:


Ceremonial Hall (4th Floor)
2 W 64th St
New York, NY 10023 United States
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