William Durham, ’71, Bing Professor in Human Biology (Emeritus), past director of the Program in Human Biology and chair of anthropology at Stanford, is an innovative scholar who received a Mac-Arthur Prize Fellowship for his research and multiple Stanford awards for his teaching. Bill’s career has focused on two main themes. The first is putting principles of ecology and evolution to work in understanding and sustaining biological and cultural diversity in the world today. The second is identifying the social dimensions of contemporary environmental problems and working with local people to help solve them.
Bill has two special interests in islands like those we’ll visit on this expedition: understanding the diverse ways island peoples adjust to the finite resources of their homeland, especially in managing fisheries, forests, fresh water and other “common pool” resources; and understanding how the origins and adaptations of island flora and fauna can be used to improve biodiversity conservation efforts underway today. His most recent book Exuberant Life (2021, Oxford University Press) looks at both of these topics for the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. He also lived and worked with his family for nearly a year on the San Blas Islands of Panama among the Native American Kuna (Guna). Bill’s career has taken him to many other islands and archipelagos, including the Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Samoa, and New Guinea. Bill traces his interest in islands to his own educational travels, which he calls “one of the most enriching experiences a person can have.”
Governing Member, elected in 2023, of the Charles Darwin Foundation of Galapagos
Senior Fellow and Co-director, Emeritus, of the Osa & Golfito Sustainability Initiative in Costa Rica, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford
Former Director, Program in Human Biology, and former Chair, Departments of Anthropology and Anthropological Sciences
Editor for sixteen years of the Annual Review of Anthropology
Fellowships: Yang and Yamazaki University Fellow, MacArthur Prize, Harry Frank Guggenheim, California Academy of Sciences, Danforth Foundation and National Science Foundation
Teaching awards: Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel, Walter J. Gores, ASSU, Rhodes, Bing Fellow, and Richard W. Lyman
BS, Biological Sciences, 1971, Stanford University
MS, Zoology, 1973, and PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1977, University of Michigan
Have a question for us?
Get in touch with someone at Travel/Study. Feel free to give us a call at (650) 725-1093 between 9am and 4pm, Monday through Friday.