Leading activist on sustainable agriculture, women’s rights to speak: Distinguished Lecturer Vandana Shiva at Luther College Feb. 26

Environmental activist Vandana Shiva will present a Luther College Distinguished Lecture, "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall on Luther's campus. The lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Shiva advocates for food crop diversity, necessary for the conservation of traditional agrarian societies such as the region of India where she grew up.

Jon Jensen, Luther associate professor of philosophy and director of Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities, notes that Shiva ties her advocacy of sustainable agriculture into other global issues. "Vandana Shiva really does highlight the social aspects of sustainability. She works for justice. She works for women’s rights. But she ties that in to agriculture. She ties that in to energy, she ties that in to sustainability and community," Jensen said.

Shiva was born in 1952 in Dehradun, India, to a father who was a conservator of forests and a mother who farmed. Even as child she aspired to be a scientist, and she trained as a physicist and earned her Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario. Her studies soon led her to wonder about the impact of science on life and the environment, and thus began Shiva’s passionate affair with the environment.

Her campaigns for sustainability and justice over the past three decades have recognized the crucial role of women in sustainable agriculture. Most of the farmers in Shiva’s home country are women, and Shiva works from the understanding that caring for the earth means caring for women and their quality of life. She has written extensively about violence against women and the need for gender equality in the context of prevailing global food systems.

In 1982, Shiva founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehradun. The foundation, which partners with local communities to address ecological and social issues, spawned the Navdanya (“nine crops”) movement, a conservation program whose main goal is to support local farmers and rescue crops and plants that are being pushed to extinction.

In addition, Shiva advises governments and international organizations on sustainable practices and responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources. Several of Shiva’s books, including "The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind" and "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace," examine the social, economic and ecological costs levied by corporate-led globalization. 

Environmental activist, Vandana Shiva