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EMU Alum Wins Nobel Peace Prize


Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) alumna Leymah Gbowee is one of three women jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Oct. 7. She shares the prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and women’s rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

Gbowee, who earned a master’s degree in conflict transformation at EMU, received the Nobel Prize for her work in organizing a peace movement to end the Second Liberian Civil War. She has become famous in her country and across the globe for mobilizing women.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee, an EMU alum

2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee is an alum of EMU's graduate program in conflict transformation.

Only 12 other women have won the peace prize in its 110-year history.

Gbowee graduated from EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) in 2007 with a master of arts degree. She attended CJP’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute in 2004 and completed its Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program in 2005.

In June 2011 at EMU, Gbowee participated in a by-invitation conference on the needs of women peacebuilders around the world. Participants included filmmaker Abigail Disney of the United States, Koila Costello-Olsson of Fiji, Suraya Sadeed of Afghanistan, and Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, a Kenyan-Muslim woman of Somali ethnic origin who received the 2007 Right Livelihood Prize. (Abdi died in a car accident after returning to Kenya in July 2011.)

“As a direct result of this conference, we will be launching a women and peacebuilding program at our 2012 Summer Peacebuilding Institute,” says Lynn Roth, executive director of CJP.

Gbowee is scheduled to be on EMU campus Oct. 14-16 to receive the university’s annual Alumna of the Year award as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend celebrations.

Gbowee is executive director of the Women, Peace and Security Network Africa, an organization she co-founded to build relationships across the West African sub-region. Headquartered in Ghana, the organization supports women’s capacity to prevent, avert and end conflict across the region.

She has won numerous awards, including the Blue Ribbon for Peace by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She typically accepts such honors on behalf of her countrywomen.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” documentary

Gbowee is the central figure in a documentary produced by Abigail Disney, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which will be shown at EMU Friday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium. Completed in 2008, the documentary is part of a series that debuts on PBS stations nationwide at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011.

Press conference during Homecoming weekend

EMU will hold a press conference with Gbowee during Homecoming weekend. Further information will be released by noon (EST) on Tuesday, Oct. 11. You may also contact EMU news director Mike Zucconi for updates at 540-432-4211 or mike.zucconi@emu.edu

EMU is a diverse Christian liberal arts college based in Harrisonburg, Va., and guided by core values of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition.  Approximately 1600 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, seminary and Center for Justice and Peacebuilding programs at EMU. Sustainability and cross-cultural study are emphasized across the curriculum.

11 Responses to "EMU Alum Wins Nobel Peace Prize"

  1. Orv Gingerich says:

    Congratulations to EMU and CJP on the award to Leymah! What a wonderful connection and relationship to celebrate. All the best to you in your work.
    We especially appreciate the assistance Jan provided in 2009 to get Leymah to speak at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on the Augsburg College campus in Minneapolis.

    Orv Gingerich
    Augsburg College and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum

  2. margaret eby says:

    Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a powerful movie and story. Thank Leymah for your work on behalf of women. Congratulations on the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Margaret Eby

  3. Joan Anderson says:

    Congratulations! I am so pleased that one of your alumni has won the Nobel Peace Prize. I have admired your work since I did a story on your Peace Institute for the Mountain Courier.
    The world so needs you and your hard-working alumni.

    Joan Anderson

  4. Nicholas Carl says:

    Thank you, Leymah, for your solid, life changing, inspiration because of your commitment to peace action.

  5. Cheri Small says:

    Pretty awesome and inspiring!!!!

  6. Augustus Ben Omalla says:

    Congratulation Leymah and the entire family of EMU. You deserve it. Having been there I can testify the values of EMU. Long live winer Long live EMU.

  7. Yorifumi Yaguchi says:

    Congratulations! I wonder if you can come to Japan some time and share your experiences with us? Yorifumi

  8. […] The announcement from EMU on the Nobel Peace Prize award can be found at emu.edu. […]

  9. Andrew says:

    Whoah! Hearty Congrats – Leyman – for your hard noble work, achievement and inspiration to all EMU alumni, educators, administration staff and beyond. I am very proud of you and our common Alma Mater, EMU.

  10. […] In my 10+ years as a professional web nerd, I’ve never been involved in anything that’s “gone viral,” until Friday. We weren’t caught completely off-guard at CJP, as we’d been hearing rumors of Leymah’s being considered for the prize for months. But that still didn’t prepare for me for riding the social media tidal wave on Friday morning, when the winners were announced. It was the quickest 5.5 hours of my professional life, keeping track of the activity on Facebook and Twitter, watching with amazement when at one point on Friday morning, “Leymah Gbowee” was one of the top-trending phrases in the U.S. on Twitter. When the digital dust settled by Monday morning and I checked stats, I saw that the EMU website as a whole doubled its traffic on Friday alone, not to mention the thousands of “likes” on the EMU News article which announced her winning. […]

  11. […] Leymah Gbowee earned a master’s degree at Eastern Mennonite University in conflict transformation. She attended the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and has completed the STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) program. […]