Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates, whose latest research concerns empathy and cooperation, inequity aversion and social cognition in chimpanzees, bonobos and other species. His career, particularly his 2009 book, The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, will frame his Chautauqua Lecture Series presentation on the biology and evolution of empathy.
De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department of Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2013, he is a Distinguished Professor (Universiteitshoogleraar) at Utrecht University.
De Waal’s first book, Chimpanzee Politics, compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books — translated into 20 languages — have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. Other books include The Bonobo and the Atheist, The Primate Mind and Evolved Morality.
De Waal is a member of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and is the winner of the 2020 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, among numerous other distinctions. He studied at the Dutch universities of Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Groningen, and Utrecht, and received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.