Global activist and policy expert Vandana Shiva talks environmentalism at CU

Dr. Vandana Shiva claims that the struggles for environmental justice and for human rights are inextricably linked.

Shiva is a well-known policy expert and activist in the fields of environmentalism and agriculture. The Cultural Events Board brought her to campus. The student group Eye Resist and CU Boulder’s Environmental Center co-hosted the event.

The lecture, “Eco-Social Justice on the Global Frontlines,” was held in a packed Glenn Miller Ballroom. The crowd, made up of students and Boulder community members, gave Shiva a standing ovation when she approached the podium and cheered at points throughout her speech Wednesday.

Shiva’s talk focused on the importance of joining social and environmental justice.

“There has never been a separation between ecological sustainability and social justice,” she said.

Shiva was born in India and was educated as a physicist. She was originally uninterested in thinking about food.

“Why do you have to eat? Why can’t you just think?” she said jokingly to describe her past attitude. However, she began to study agriculture after witnessing the rise of the agricultural company Monsanto in the 1980s and was troubled by the effects it had on small farmers.

Throughout the talk, she spoke out against the practice of seed-patenting, because it led farmers into debt for buying patented seeds. Shiva also said she believed it was unethical for a corporation to put a patent on something originally created by nature.

“Seeds are not inventions,” she said.

Shiva discussed the principle she drew from for her activism as “the recognition that some laws are so unjust, so unethical, that they are not worth obeying.” She cited Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. as her inspirations in speaking out against injustice.

After her talk, Shiva answered audience questions selected by moderators. She discussed issues ranging from the ethics of vegetarianism to ways for people to get involved in community activism. She also urged students to be active in local politics and to plant community gardens.

Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Carina Julig at

Carina Julig

Carina Julig serves as the managing editor of the CU Independent. A junior majoring in journalism and political science, she formerly interned at the Boulder Daily Camera and studied journalism abroad in the Balkans. She is a California native and cut her teeth in student journalism at her San Diego high school.

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