Dr. Vandana Shiva, a leading voice in the worldwide movement to promote biodiversity in agriculture and preserve the integrity of food resources, received the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award during a daylong visit to Loyola Marymount University.
In her lecture on Nov. 1, Shiva spoke of the challenges facing the world and discussed the international effort to write a new narrative for the world, the need to pass along generational knowledge, the importance of saving of seeds and biodiversity, and how change must come through empowerment of people and the awareness that all living things in the world are linked.
In addition to the Doshi award evening ceremony, Shiva attended events sponsored by LMU’s Office of Sustainability and green groups, including the LIONS Garden Club and the ECO Students (Environmentally Conscious and Organized) club.
“I hope that the campus community will embrace her ideas, and put them into practice in all of our endeavors,” said Joe Rasmussen, LMU’s sustainability manager, who helped organize the daytime events.
In 1989, Shiva founded Navdanya, which means “nine seeds” - symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity. “This gift or ‘dana’ of Navadhanyas is the ultimate gift - it is a gift of life, of heritage and continuity,” the organization says on its website, noting that “conserving seed is conserving biodiversity, conserving knowledge of the seed and its utilization, conserving culture, conserving sustainability.” Navdanya is a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 16 states in India.
At a classroom talk with students in Pereira Hall, she demonstrated the resolve that has given her work impetus and her movement power. Though parched and with no pitcher of water at hand, she refused a bottle of Dasani water, saying, “I don’t drink that,” while noting the packaging added to pollution and the bottling company is a longtime foe in her native India. An audience member responded quickly, sharing with Shiva the contents of her stainless water bottle.
Shiva has been honored for her work as an eco-feminist and for her advocacy of bioethics, organic farming and sustainable agriculture, as well as efforts to protect native seeds and promote fair trade policies. She has received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” for placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse. She has also received the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environment Programme and the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations for her dedicated commitment to the preservation of the planet as well as over 20 additional such awards.
The Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award is named for its benefactors, Navin and Pratima Doshi, and comes with a $10,000 stipend. The award honors an individual or organization dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures, peoples and disciplines. The award is sponsored by the Navin and Pratima Doshi Professorship of Indic and Comparative Theology, which is held by Professor Christopher Key Chapple. Previous recipients of the award include Deepak Chopra, Zubin Mehta, peace advocate Thich Nhat Hanh, author and educator Greg Mortenson and religious scholar Huston Smith.