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Nobel Peace Laureate to speak on conservation and human rights

Dr. Wangari Maathai

Dr. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, will be the honored guest at the College of Education’s 2007 Distinguished Lecture Series.

The event is open to the public and is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1 at Zoellner Arts Center. Tickets are now available by calling the box office at (610) 758-2787. They cost $15 for the floor and $10 for all balcony seats.

The orchestra section is reserved for Lehigh faculty, staff and students, who can get tickets in the section free of charge on a first-come basis.

Maathai has been an international advocate for conservation and human rights since 1976, when she first served on the National Council of Women in Kenya. In 1971, she became the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree when she graduated with a degree in veterinary anatomy from the University of Nairobi.

Maathai is perhaps best known for her work in advocating peace. When awarded the Nobel Peace Laureate in 2004, she said “protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace … those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act.”

"Dr. Maathai's story is truly marvelous," says Sally A. White, dean of the College of Education. "For years, she has been one of Africa's most vocal advocates for social justice and has been inspirational in giving women confidence to succeed when the odds are against them. It's a compelling lifelong story, and we're excited she can share it with us as our distinguished speaker in the college’s lecture series."

The Green Belt Movement started in 1976 as a grassroots initiative designed to help women’s groups gain economic security and improve their quality of life. Planting trees was a symbolic gesture of their willingness to protect shared resources such as forests, parks and rivers.

To date, the international movement that began in Kenya is responsible for the planting of more than 30 million trees worldwide.

Maathai's presentation, titled “Empowerment and the escape from poverty,” is co-sponsored by St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network. For more information, visit the College of Education’s Web site.

--Thomas Yencho

Photo by Martin Rowe

Posted on Friday, December 01, 2006

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