College Awards $100,000 Prize for Environmental Activism

Bill McKibben's residency will occur during the spring 2013 semester

Bill McKibben receives environmental prize.

Bill McKibben (Photo by Nancie Battaglia)

Environmental activist, author and journalist Bill McKibben has been selected as the first recipient of The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. The annual prize of $100,000 also includes a short residency during the academic year. McKibben will receive the prize at Commencement on Sunday, May 20. 

Sustainability is a defining characteristic of a Dickinson education,” said President William G. Durden. “Having this prize enables the college to bring environmentalists of renown and accomplishment to the college for collaboration with our students and the community.”

McKibben is the founder of, the world’s largest grassroots climate campaign, with activists in every country but North Korea. Since 2009, has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries. Time magazine has called McKibben “the planet’s best green journalist” and The Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.”

McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in The New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has been printed in more than 20 languages.

In 2006, McKibben helped lead a five-day walk across Vermont to demand action on global warming that some newspaper accounts called the largest climate-change demonstration to date in America. In 2011, he led the largest civil-disobedience action in 30 years in the U.S., as part of a protest against proposed pipelines to the tar sands of Canada. McKibben received the Guggenheim and Lyndhurst fellowships and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000.

A frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper's, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone and Outside magazines, McKibben also is a board member and contributor to Grist. He graduated from Harvard University where he served as president of The Harvard Crimson newspaper. He is the recipient of more than a dozen honorary degrees and in 2011 was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Committed to restoring and sustaining the natural world for future generations, Rose and Walters created this prize to focus attention on the need to reduce the impact of human lives on the planet, particularly given the rising population predictions for this century. “Education is a necessity if we are to understand the problems facing the natural world and its inhabitants,” said Rose. “Julie and I wanted to endow the prize at Dickinson because we fully support the curriculum, which 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.”

Rose, a real-estate developer and attorney, was a member of the 1958 Dickinson lacrosse team that made college history when it won Dickinson’s first and only national title. A founding partner of Greenbaum and Rose Associates, he has more than 40 years of experience in commercial development, primarily in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. An emeritus trustee of Dickinson, in 2001 he established the Samuel G. Rose ’58 Scholarship at Dickinson for economically disadvantaged students. Rose also serves as vice chair at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and he and Walters are members of Dickinson’s Founders’ Society.

As long-time supporters of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Rose and Walters endowed the prize to honor NRDC co-founder John H. Adams and his 40 years of dedication and service to environmental causes. Prior to the awarding of The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism to McKibben, Adams will be presented with a Doctor of Public Service honorary degree.

Published May 15, 2012