Swackhamer named a Finalist for the MIT Disobedience Award

On Friday, Deborah Swackhamer, Professor Emerita at the University of Minnesota, was honored for her work pushing back on the current US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administration in her support of scientific integrity and its use in decision making. In May of 2017, prior to testifying before the House of Representatives Science Committee Subcommittee on Environment, she was pressured by the chief of staff of the EPA to alter her testimony. She refused. This disobedient act was recognized by the MIT Media Lab in their second annual Disobedience Award ceremony held in Boston last week.

These awards, funded by Media Lab board member and billionaire Reid Hoffman, are to recognize the importance of civil disobedience in affecting social change. The three winners of this year's top award went to the social activist credited with the creation of the #MeToo movement, and to two women who have actively worked to change the academic environment and its top institutions regarding the tolerance of sexual harassment and violence. The winners shared a prize of $250,000. Other finalists in addition to Swackhamer included two Syrian sisters who, after fleeing their home, have worked to bring light to the refugee's plight in Europe; an immigration activist working on sanctuary cities, and a school teacher who sparked several statewide strikes for better education funding. Finalists received a $10,000 cash award, and all awardees received a unique sculpture designed by MIT professor Neri Oxman.

Dr. Swackhamer served on the faculty of the School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Program from 1986-2015. She was also a former director of the Water Resources Center. We thank Swackhamer for her courage to stand up for the environment in the face of adversity.