2008 Dignitas Humana Award

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai Receives 2008 Dignitas Humana Award, Speaks to Hundreds

Bill Cahoy, Wangari Maathai, Abbot John Klassen, OSB Wangari Maathai

(L) Dr. Wangari Maathai receives the 2008 Dignitas Humana Award from Bill Cahoy, dean of Saint John's School of Theology·Seminary (left), and Abbot John Klassen, OSB, abbot of Saint John's Abbey (right).
(R) Dr. Wangari Maathai speaks on "Environment, Democracy, and Peace: A Critical Link" to the assembled crowd in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater.

Photos by Andra Van Kempen-Middlestaedt

Media Release:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai will receive the 10th Dignitas Humana Award from Saint John’s School of Theology∙Seminary at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008, in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater on the campus of Saint John’s University.

Following the presentation of the award, Maathai will give a lecture, “Environment, Democracy, and Peace: A Critical Link” in the Humphrey Theater. All are welcome to attend the award presentation and lecture.

Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, is an environmentalist and advocate for human rights around the world. The first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Maathai was recognized for her holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy and human rights and women’s rights in particular. Born in Kenya, Maathai is internationally recognized for her ability to draw attention to oppression and for the inspiration she offers to many, particularly women, in the fight for democratic rights and better living conditions.

Since the late 1970s, Maathai has championed the concept of planting trees as a part of environmental conservation, which is critical to peace. This activity grew into the Green Belt Movement, whose main focus is helping women’s groups plant trees to conserve the environment and improve quality of life. Maathai, through the Green Belt Movement, has encouraged and enabled women to plant more than 30 million trees on their farms and near their schools and churches.

Maathai has addressed the United Nations on issues of debt elimination for poor African nations, peace in the Sudan and Burma, human rights violations and environmental conservation.

The Dignitas Humana Award annually recognizes and encourages the efforts of individuals who do exceptional work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. It honors those who exemplify the Judeo-Christian values of service, respect, kindness and compassion in their work to advance the dignity of human persons. Recipients of this award support, advocate for, nurture and protect people on the margins of society in the United States and around the world and inspire others to work for human dignity and justice.

Previous recipients of The Dignitas Humana Award include Rick Ufford-Chase; the Community of Sant’Egidio; Rev. Carl Wilkens; the Taizé Community; S. Helen Prejean, CSJ; Rev. Gregory Boyle, SJ; Jean Vanier; Marva Collins; and Jonathan Kozol.

The Dignitas Humana Award is made possible by the generosity of M. George and Gloria Allen.