Google Search
31st Watts Lecture featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva: "Staying Alive: Empowering Women for a Sustainable Future"


U of T Scarborough's signature public lecture series brings the community to the campus through a lecture in one of our large lecture theatre.  The F.B. Watts Memorial Lecture series is named in honour of the late F.B. Watts, a distinguished geography professor (1921 - 1969).  Professor Watts was an original member of UTSC's faculty, and played a key role in formulating campus policies in its early years.  The lecture series began in 1970 with the intention that the lectures have as wide an appeal as possible within the university as well as the community.

WHO: This year's speaker is Dr. Vandana Shiva

WHAT: 31st Watts Lecture

WHERE: University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Academic Resource Centre Lecture Theatre, AC223

WHEN: Wednesday, March 14, 2007, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

COST: Please join us for this free, public lecture.  Everyone is welcome.

For more information contact

Topic Outline

Capitalist patriarchy has pitted human activity against the planet.  Our very survival as a species is at stake with climate chaos, water crisis and the disappearance of species.  We need to live according to the laws of Gaia if humanity is to survive in the future.  Women, who have been left out of the privileges and powers of the global market, are leading movements to protect biodiversity, water, food systems and the atmosphere.

Women's empowerment is not just necessary for women to occupy their full place in society and the economy, women's empowerment has become an imperative for human survival.

Speaker Profile

Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist and did her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.  She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India

In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements.  In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving more than 2,00,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 2000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 34 seed banks in 13 states across the country. More than 70,000 farmers are primary members of Navdanya.  In 2001 she started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.

Dr. Shiva combines the sharp intellectual enquiry with courageous activism. She is equally at ease working with peasants in rural India and teaching in Universities worldwide.

Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia.

Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food.  Her books, “The Violence of Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind” have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture.  Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate led globalisation. Dr. Shiva chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy. She is a Board Member of the International Forum on Globalisation and a member of the Steering Committee of the Indian People’s Campaign against WTO. She also serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming. She is an International Councillor of Slow Food and a founding council member of the World Future Council.

The area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Biodiversity is another area where Dr. Shiva has contributed intellectually and through campaigns. Through her leadership and commitments, Dr. Shiva and her team at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology successfully challenged the biopiracy of Neem, Basmati and Wheat. Besides her activism, she has also served on expert groups of government on Biodiversity and IPR legislation.

Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering are another dimension of Dr. Shiva’s campaigning internationally.  She has helped movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria with their campaigns against genetic engineering. In 2003, with movements worldwide she launched the global citizens campaign on the WTO GMO dispute between U.S and Europe.

Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are nationally and internationally recognised.  Her book, “Staying Alive” dramatically shifted the perception of Third World women.  In 1990 she wrote a report for the FAO on Women and Agriculture entitled, “Most Farmers in India are Women”.   She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO).

She has initiated an international movement of women working of food, agriculture, patents and biotechnology called, Diverse Women for Diversity.  The movement was launched formally in Bratislava, Slovakia on 1-2 May 1998. Diverse Women for Diversity has carried out studies for the National Commission of Women and the Department of Science and Technology.

Dr. Shiva has been a visiting professor and lectured at the Universities of Oslo, Norway, Schumacher College, U.K. Mt. Holyoke college, U.S., York University, Canada, University of Lulea, Sweden, University of Victoria, Canada, and Universite libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of UN and Earth Day International Award.

© University of Toronto Scarborough