Vandana Shiva will present a Luther College Distinguished Lecture, “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace,” Tuesday, Feb. 26. (Submitted photo)
Vandana Shiva will present a Luther College Distinguished Lecture, “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace,” Tuesday, Feb. 26. (Submitted photo)

Vandana Shiva is a Renaissance woman-if a Renaissance woman is a physicist with a philosophy Ph.D. and one of the world's leading activist-intellectuals on women's rights, sustainable agriculture and a spate of other environmental concerns.

Identified by the Guardian as one of the world's most prominent radical scientists, by Forbes as one of the top seven most powerful feminists (2010) and by Time as an environmental hero (2003), Shiva will present a Luther College Distinguished Lecture, "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall on Luther's campus.

Shiva was born in India in 1952, into a family with conservationist and agrarian roots. After obtaining advanced degrees in physics and philosophy, her love of nature and fine-tuned sense of justice led her to turn her strong intellect to environmental concerns.

In 1982, Shiva founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India.

The foundation, which partners with local communities to address ecological and social issues, spawned the Navdanya ("nine crops") movement, a conservation program that aims to support small farmers and protect biodiversity.

Navdanya educates on the hazards of genetic engineering, and it protects indigenous, local knowledge from corporate biopiracy.

The organization's seed banks and 45-acre organic farm have so far conserved more than 5,000 crop varieties, including more than 3,000 varieties of rice. Its educational initiative, Bija Vldyapeeth, a collaboration with Schumacher College in the United Kingdom, offers learners a model for sustainable living and farming that is rooted in ecology and democracy and that opposes the corporate model of agriculture, which Shiva sees as destructive and greed-ridden.

While Shiva's foundations work at the community level to address environmental concerns, she is perhaps better known for her willingness to take on worldwide injustices and to challenge destructive global paradigms.

Several of her books, including "The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind" and "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace," examine the social, economic and ecological costs levied by corporate-led globalization.

Shiva's campaigns for sustainability and justice over the past three decades have recognized the crucial role of women in sustainable agriculture.

Most of the farmers in Shiva's home country of India are women, and Shiva works from the understanding that caring for the earth means caring for women and for their quality of life.

She has written extensively about violence against women and the need for gender equality in the context of prevailing global food systems, and she works for and with women in her advocacy of biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security through her Diverse Women for Diversity program.

In addition, Shiva advises governments and international organizations on sustainable practices and responsible stewardship of the earth's resources.