Augustana's Boe Forum to Focus on Sustainable Development

By Jill Wilson | November 15, 2022

Augustana University and the Center for Western Studies (CWS) announced today that Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway and director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), will be the featured speaker for the 26th Boe Forum on Public Affairs to be held at 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in the Elmen Center.

Considered the “Mother of Sustainability,” Brundtland travels and lectures as a leading voice on climate change — for a healthier and better educated world and a champion of sustainable development, which she defines as “meeting the demands of the present generations while preserving the rights of  future generations to meet their own needs.”

"Sustainability is a topic that interests a broad cross-section of the public and college communities," stated Dr. Harry Thompson, executive director of the Center for Western Studies.  "We are especially pleased to hear Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland speak about the way sustainable development provides a growth-positive approach to the future."

Following Brundtland’s address on sustainable development will be a Q&A session, with questions developed by Augustana students interested in sustainability and moderated by Augustana President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. 

“Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland has been providing leadership on issues of global significance for more than four decades, dedicating her life’s work to inspiring action and cooperation around the world. The former prime minister’s passion for public health and the environment, vast knowledge and expertise, and commitment to collaboration and inclusivity have influenced transformational change,” said Herseth Sandlin. “As we emerge from the global pandemic and face the immediate and future challenges of climate change, Dr. Harlem Brundtland’s address will bring invaluable insight on the importance of empowering communities to find sustainable solutions that improve the health of people and the planet.”

Tickets for the 26th Boe Forum are free and available to the public at or the Center for Western Studies.

About Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland earned a medical degree at the University of Oslo, and Master of Public Health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health.

From 1966-69, she worked as a physician at the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs, and then as a doctor at the Ministry of Health in Oslo, where she focused on children's health issues. In 1974, Brundtland was asked to serve as Norway’s minister of the environment, focusing on the links between public health and the environment.  

In 1981, at the age of 41, Brundtland became the first woman prime minister of Norway — the youngest person ever appointed. Serving three terms, Brundtland was head of the Norwegian government for more than 10 years.

Brundtland was invited by the United Nations (U.N.) secretary-general to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983 — leading to the Earth Summit, the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. 

In 1998, Brundtland was elected director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and served until 2003 — the same year she was recognized as Scientific American’s Policy Leader of the Year. Under her forward-thinking leadership, WHO confronted the global threat of the SARS virus. Her rapid response and information networking are largely credited with helping prevent the widespread growth of the disease.

In 2007, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chose Brundtland to serve as one of the U.N. Special Envoys for Climate Change. That same year, she became a founding member of “The Elders” — a group of leaders called together by Nelson Mandela and chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackling the world’s toughest problems with the goal of conflict resolution and making the world a better place.

Brundtland’s numerous awards include the 1988 Third World Prize for leadership on sustainable  development, 1989 Indira Gandhi Prize, 1994 der Internationaler Karlspreis zu Achen, International Environment Prize from the City of Göteborg in Sweden, Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan and Geneva Forum for Health Award.

About the Boe Forum

Through the Boe Forum on Public Affairs, the Center for Western Studies at Augustana University has hosted many of the world’s most influential leaders. Past Boe Forum speakers include:

  • Former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Dr. Michael A. McFaul (2022)
  • Physician-Scientist and Harvard Professor of Medicine Dr. Robert Green and Leading Futurist Dr. Jamie Metzl (2021)
  • Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (2019)
  • 66th U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (2018)
  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017)
  • Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (2016, in memoriam)
  • Microsoft Executive Robbie Bach (2014)
  • Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China and Singapore Jon Huntsman (2013)
  • Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen (2012)
  • U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson (2011)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (2010)
  • President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf (2009)
  • Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor (2008)
  • President and First Lady of Mexico Vicente Fox and Marta Fox (2007)
  • Vice President Al Gore (2007)
  • Presidential Envoy to Iraq L. Paul Bremer (2006)
  • Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani (2004)
  • Susan Dentzer together with Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (2003)
  • Jordan's Queen Noor (2001)
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1999)
  • First Lady of the United States Barbara Bush (1998)
  • Prime Minister of Great Britain John Major (1998)
  • President of the former Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev (1996)
  • President George H. W. Bush (1995)
  • Colin Powell (1995)

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