College News

PBS Special Features Edward O. Wilson

From the September 2015 Desktop News | Alabama Public Television will premiere “E.O. Wilson − Of Ants and Men,” a documentary about UA alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. It will be followed by a one-hour Discovering Alabama Special about Wilson at 10 p.m.

The documentary, produced by PBS International, begins with his unusual childhood in Alabama and his education at The University of Alabama. It includes footage of Wilson at UA, filmed during the Auburn-Alabama football game weekend in November 2014. He appears in the stands of Bryant-Denny Stadium talking with Crimson Tide football fans during the Iron Bowl and on the steps of Gorgas Library in conversation with Brandon Gibson, a former Crimson Tide wide receiver and member of the 2009 and 2011 National Championship football teams.

“E.O. Wilson – Of Ants and Men” chronicles the famed biologist’s lifelong love for the natural world and his work in ant communication that led him to his remarkable studies of advanced social behavior and human behavior. The film culminates with his work in the great National Park of Mozambique, Gorongosa, which brings together the great themes of his life and work: nature and humanity’s place in it. This is the second PBS documentary to profile Wilson. The first, “Lord of the Ants,” was produced by NOVA and aired in 2008.

Wilson is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of 29 influential books, including “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis and The Diversity of Life.” He won the Pulitzer Prize for his books “The Ants” and “On Human Nature.”

Wilson is known as the founder of the theory of sociobiology, which proposes that human and animal behavior is shaped by evolutionary forces and which greatly influenced the development of its offshoot, evolutionary psychology. He developed the basis of modern biodiversity conservation efforts through his biophilia hypothesis, which proposes that there is a vital, instinctive bond between humans and all other forms of life. Wilson’s theories have sparked decades of scientific debates.

Throughout his life, Wilson has spearheaded efforts to preserve the world’s biodiversity. He played a central role in establishing the Encyclopedia of Life, which has the goal of curating a web page for every one of Earth’s species, and he has mobilized the movement to protect the world’s “hot spots,” the realms of highest biodiversity on the planet.

Wilson is a member of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Board, a group of some 190 alumni and friends who support the College with their time, influence, and annual membership gifts.

A Birmingham native who grew up on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Wilson chronicled his childhood sloshing through the woods and creeks of south Alabama in his bestselling 1994 autobiography, “Naturalist.” He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from The University of Alabama and his doctoral degree from Harvard University where he taught and conducted research for 45 years and where he continues to hold the positions of honorary curator in entomology and university research professor emeritus.