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Middlebury's Schumann Distinguished Scholar Bill McKibben has won the prestigious Right Livelihood Award.

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Bill McKibben Wins 'Alternative Nobel' Award

September 24, 2014

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury Bill McKibben has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award. As one of three laureates to win the prize, which is often referred to as the "Alternative Nobel Prize," McKibben will share a cash award of 1.5 million Swedish Krona (approximately $210,000) with human rights activists Asma Jahangir and Basil Fernando. Whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger received Right Livelihood Honorary Awards.

According to the Stockholm-based Right Livelihood Award Foundation, McKibben won the award "for mobilizing growing popular support in the U.S.A. and around the world for strong action to counter the threat of global climate change." The awards will be presented at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament on December 1, 2014.

McKibben has been a scholar in residence at Middlebury since 2001 and is founder, along with several former Middlebury students, of, the first global grassroots climate change movement. The organization now works in nearly every country in the world on campaigns to reduce fossil fuel usage and promote climate action.

"This honor comes as much to my home institutions– and Middlebury–as it does to me," said McKibben. "Of course was born at Middlebury, and its initial leaders learned about the world in its halls. We're all immensely grateful to the College for what it has given us, and it is the great pleasure of my life to keep teaching and working here in the mountains of Vermont."

McKibben's 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has appeared in 24 languages. He is a former staff writer for the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to major publications, including the New York Review of BooksNational Geographic, and Rolling Stone.

Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Awards are presented annually and were introduced “to honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.” This year, there were 120 proposals from 53 countries. There are now 158 Right Livelihood Award laureates from 65 countries.


Middlebury students shouldn't be getting an education in how to protest or "climate change rhetoric" a la the KeyStone XL Pipeline Protests in DC. The world needs actual solutions to its energy problems. Not a bunch of grandstanding graduates brainwashed into thinking they are the solution because they wave a sign in front of a camera. If solar, wind and thermal are not cost competitive in the market, Middlebury College should be supporting the departments that could actually educate graduates on how to solve these problems (Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science.) The engineers that make these solutions cost competitive
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will be the true heroes of the climate crisis. They are probably graduating from MIT and CalTech however and not Middlebury. They will do more silently than McKibbon and all the other lackeys. Middlebury College, please get actually serious about solving these dirty energy problems and stop educating students on how to whine and complain the right way.
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by Phil McCracken (not verified)

I heartily endorse Mr. McCracken's comments about Middlebury's direction on climate change rhetoric. McCracken is correct.

by Jon LeTowt (not verified)

Technical solutions are vital. I think McKibben would acknowledge that. But technical change alone will not be enough. Shifts in behavior, the work of adaptation, is also necessary. Increased civic engagement is, I think, a fitting role for students. It hints at cultural changes which are a part of the evolution that needs to happen. Because whining the right way--knowing how to talk to whom when--is a challenging skill that requires emotional intelligence and nuanced communication skills, it is absolutely a worthy pedagogical goal for Middlebury College.

by Ian Carrick (not verified)

A well-deserved achievement for one of the world's most influential leaders on climate science and climate action! So proud of Mr. McKibben and appreciate his continued mentorship of campaigners, appearances at college and university divestment rallies, and his sage advice shared on Bill Moyers and in the pages of Rolling Stone.

by Stacy Clark (not verified)

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