Campus & Community

Holdren Wins Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

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John Holdren

John P. Holdren, the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, has won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his work to mobilize the international community of scientists and policy-makers to take action on a wide range of global energy, environmental, and security issues.

The Tyler Prize is an international award honoring achievements in environmental science, energy, and medical discoveries of worldwide importance that impact upon human existence. Holdren will receive a cash prize of $200,000 and a gold Tyler Prize medallion at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles on April 14.

“Professor Holdren’s leadership in research and policy in global energy and environmental issues has had a profound influence in shaping global environmental debate and advancing scientific contributions that affect the well-being of people and relations among nations,” said Robert P. Sullivan, Ph.D., chair of the Tyler Prize Executive Committee.

Holdren is also the director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School, a professor of Environmental Science and Policy in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and a Visiting Distinguished Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center.

An authority on energy technology and policy, global environmental change, and nuclear nonproliferation, Holdren’s research has helped shape new understanding and new policies relating to energy strategy for sustainable development, causes and consequences of global climate change, and the protection of weapon-usable nuclear materials.

As a member of President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), Holdren has led studies on U.S.—Russian cooperation to protect nuclear materials, U.S. fusion-energy research, energy research and development strategy to address the climate-change challenge, and international cooperation in energy-technology innovation. He chairs the Committee on International Security and Arms Control at the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council’s Committee on U.S.-India Cooperation on Energy.

Holdren’s involvement in international efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear conflict dates to the early 1970s. He began participating in 1973 in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs – a group of scholars and public figures from around the world concerned with nuclear arms reductions and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. Holdren served as chair of the Pugwash executive committee from 1987 to 1997, and was chosen by his colleagues to give the acceptance speech when the Pugwash organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

As an educator, Holdren has pioneered modes of interdisciplinary education and inquiry to form the next generation of scientists and professionals who will need to cope with the even more complex environmental and international-relations issues of the future. He co-founded in 1973, and co-directed for 23 years, the campuswide interdisciplinary graduate program in Energy and Resources at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Harvard in 1996.

Holdren earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from M.I.T. in aeronautics and astronautics, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in aeronautics/astronautics and theoretical plasma physics. He is the author of more than 300 articles and reports, and co-author and co-editor of 15 books.

Holdren is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a previous recipient of the Volvo Environment Prize (1993) and the Kaul Foundation Award of Excellence in Science and Environmental Policy (1999). In 1981, he received one of the first MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowships. Since 1991, he has been a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s board of directors.

The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement was established in 1973 by the late John and Alice Tyler. John Tyler was founder and a long-time chief executive officer of the Farmers Insurance Group. Through their work, Tyler laureates have focused worldwide attention on environmental problems and motivated effective action toward solutions. Three previous recipients of the Tyler Prize have subsequently been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The Tyler Prize is administered by the University of Southern California.