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Vandana Shiva, PhD’79, LLD’02, is a revolutionary of the highest order – maligned by those she challenges, lionized by the millions she defends. A world-renowned scholar, philosopher, and unrelenting advocate for women and the environment, she proves local change can have global impact. And her resolve to change the world started at Western.

Biography

Vandana Shiva, PhD’79 (Philosophy), LLD ’02, remains a revolutionary of the highest order. Philosopher, environmental activist and eco-feminist — a true environmental guru —Shiva is highly sought after as an adviser to governments around the world on environmental matters and defending the developing country poor.

She completed a master’s in philosophy at the University of Guelph, and then joined Western for her PhD work. She completed her thesis, Hidden Variable and Locality in Quantum Theory, in 1979.

In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India, dedicated to addressing significant ecological and social issues, in close partnership with local communities and social movements.

In 1991, Shiva created Navdanya (‘Nine seeds’), an Indian national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to promote organic farming and fair trade. For the last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations, serving more than 500,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in the conservation of more than 3,000 rice varieties from across India, and has established 60 seed banks in 16 states across the country. In 2004, Shiva started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.

Shiva has authored more than 20 books and 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. Two books, The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind, have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture.

She has made significant contributions to the areas of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and biodiversity. Through her leadership and commitments, Shiva and her team at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology successfully challenged the biopiracy of Neem, Basmati and Wheat. Besides her activism, she has also served on expert groups of the government on Biodiversity and IPR legislation.

Shiva has been honoured with the Global 500 Roll of Honour from the United Nations Environment Programme (1993), Earth Day International Award (1993), Right to Livelihood Award/Alternative Nobel Prize (1993), Sydney Peace Prize from Sydney University (2010) and Calgary Peace Prize from the Consortium of Peace Studies at the University of Calgary (2011). In 2003, TIME Magazine identified Shiva as an environmental ‘hero’, and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia. In 2010, Forbes Magazine named Shiva as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe.

She chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy and is a member of the International Forum on Globalization; the Steering Committee of the Indian People’s Campaign Against the WTO; the National Board of Organic Standards of India; Prince Charles’s expert group on Sustainable Agriculture; and President Zapatero’s Scientific Committee in Spain. She also works with the state governments of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttaranchal for the promotion of organic farming and has been invited by the Planning Commission to be a member of the expert group on environment, the expert group on nutrition, and the expert group on the voluntary sector.

Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are also nationally and internationally recognized. Her book Staying Alive dramatically shifts popular perceptions of Third World women. She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development in Kathmandu, and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organization. Shiva has also initiated Diverse Women for Diversity, an international movement of women working for food and agriculture launched Slovakia in 1998.

Read Shiva’s profile that appeared as the cover story of the Fall 2011 Western Alumni Gazette.

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