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Rose-Walters Prize Statement of Purpose

The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism


This prize of a minimum of $100,000 will be given annually at the Dickinson College Commencement to individuals or organizations that have made a defining difference by advancing responsible action on behalf of the planet, its resources, animals and people. The awardee(s) would be expected to hold a short-term residency the following academic year at Dickinson to visit classes and give a public presentation.


The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize for Environmental Activism, in honor of John Adams.

In 1974, a young lawyer named John Adams wrote an article for the Bar Association of the City of New York entitled Responsible Militancy. This was the blueprint he used for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy organization that for four decades has served as the environmental movement’s model for effective advocacy on behalf of people and the animal population, the places they live and the natural resources upon which all life depends.
Today, NRDC stands as a force for nature with over a million members and e-activists and a staff of four hundred, using law, science and grassroots activism to carry out its important mission. In 2010, John Adams and his wife, Patricia, recounted the history of NRDC and the environmental movement in their aptly named memoir, A Force For Nature. President Obama awarded John Adams the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, in 2011 for his lifetime of public service achievements.


Dickinson College, a national leader and innovator in sustainability education, challenges its students through classroom studies, living laboratories, service learning, student-faculty research and study abroad to build the knowledge and skills that are needed to create a sustainable world. Multiple disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches are applied in courses throughout the curriculum to examine and seek solutions to problems such as climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, poverty, injustice, food insecurity, public health risks, resource depletion, and unequal access to clean air and clean water. Opportunities for hands-on learning include working with community groups to protect local watersheds and air quality, growing food on the college’s organic farm and producing biodiesel from waste vegetable oil. Students also have the opportunity to install solar panels, reduce energy and other resource use to model sustainable businesses that are financially profitable. Sustainable practices and values are underscored by a commitment to climate neutrality, green building practices, socially responsible investment and diverse community engagement. Sustainability education is a key characteristic not only of the college’s Carlisle campus but also of Dickinson’s 13 study abroad sites. Dickinson’s achievements and leadership have earned the highest recognitions from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Sierra magazine, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, The Princeton Review and Second Nature.


Sam Rose and Julie Walters are committed to restoring and sustaining the natural world for future generations. Through this prize they seek to focus attention on the continuing need to reduce the impact of our human lives on the planet and the natural world, particularly given the rising population predictions for this century. They are long-time supporters of NRDC because of its proven ability to call world-wide attention to environmental problems and to use dialogue, scientific evidence, public opinion and the courts to affect outcomes that will protect the natural world.

Education is one of the most important aspects necessary to understand problems facing the natural world and its inhabitants. Sam and Julie fully support the curriculum at Dickinson that promotes student awareness of the environment and training for professional careers in the sciences as well as responsible living for the protection of all life forms. They are members of the college’s Founders’ Society and established an endowment in 2001 to provide education funding for minority students attending the college.


The committee consists of John H. Adams, chair; Jacob Scherr from NRDC; Associate Professors Michael Beevers and Emily Pawley, Makeeba Brown ’05, Dr. Neil Leary, Allison Miller ’20, Sierra Nguyen ’21, Provost Neil Weissman, Connie McNamara from Dickinson; and Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters.