Villanova University Recognizes Liberian Peace Activist with Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award

Villanova University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education will present the 2011 Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award Sept. 15 to Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist who helped organize and lead the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women, whose protests helped oust reviled ruler Charles Taylor in 2003.

The Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award, established in 1990, recognizes an individual or group for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the meaning and conditions of justice and peace in human communities. This year’s award will be presented Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Driscoll Hall Auditorium on the Villanova University campus.

Peace Award recipient Leymah Gbowee is the Africa columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, as well as executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network—Africa. Her work helping oust Liberian ruler Charles Taylor was featured in the 2008 documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Gbowee has received numerous honors for her work, including the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and the African Women’s Development Fund Woman of Substance Award.

“Villanova University and the Center for Peace and Justice Education are delighted to honor Ms. Leymah Gbowee for her determined efforts to make a way for peace in Liberia in the face of incredible violence,” said Dr. Kathryn Getek Soltis, Director of Villanova’s Center for Peace and Justice Education. “Ms. Gbowee has demonstrated that the urgent need for peace can give rise to collaboration between Christians and Muslims, and she has shed light on the power and creativity of women as agents of change. “

The University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education selects the award recipient from a list of candidates nominated by members of the Villanova University community. Past winners include Noam Chomsky; Daniel J. Berrigan, S.J.; Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J.; Project H.O.M.E.; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

The Center for Peace and Justice Education is a member of the College of Arts and Sciences at Villanova. The program, open to all students in the University, offers an interdisciplinary approach to topics of world peace and social justice. The course of study provides students with an opportunity to study the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching as applied to the complex problems of our time.