Wes Jackson, the founder of The Land Institute and an advocate for sustainable agriculture, will be the featured speaker at the University of Kansas’ 141st Commencement, which will be held May 19. Jackson is one of three 2013 recipients of KU honorary degrees, along with dancer and choreographer Karole Armitage and artist and educator Wendell Castle. Jackson grew up on a farm near Topeka and earned a bachelor’s degree from Kansas Wesleyan, a master’s degree from KU and a doctorate from North Carolina State University.
After establishing the Environmental Studies program at California State University, Sacramento, he returned to Kansas in 1976 to found The Land Institute, publishing "New Roots for Agriculture" in 1980 to outline his vision for developing sustainable crops for the prairie. His vision is for a prairie carpeted with perennial grains that can be sustained without industrial fertilizers, oil-consuming tractors and mechanical irrigation. Jackson has received the Pew Conservation Scholars Award; a MacArthur Fellowship; the Right Livelihood Award, given for “outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people,” and the Louis Bromfield Award, as well as the Distinguished Service Award and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards from KU.
Commencement will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 19, in Memorial Stadium. More information is available at the Commencement website.