Nobel Peace Laureate On Campus

Last November for the first time in its history, Valparaiso University welcomed a Nobel Peace Prize winner to campus to talk to students and to the wider Valparaiso community.

Leymah Roberta Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in leading a Christian and Muslim women’s peace movement that ended the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Gbowee experienced the power of prayer after leading a reconciliation effort to end that war. In 1993, a dream led her to call a gathering of women that eventually formed the Christian Women’s Peace Initiative. The women prayed and fasted for the end of violence until the country reached a ceasefire.

Gbowee is the mother of six who divides her time between different countries as she promotes peace. She attends an independent evangelical church in Ghana and a Lutheran church in Liberia.

Gbowee is founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa based in Liberia, which provides education and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa. Her book Mighty Be Our Powers (2013) describes how her Christian faith motivated her to fight injustice. Her work is documented in Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

Gbowee’s presentation in the Chapel of the Resurrection drew 500 people (on the night of the final game of the World Series!); She was articulate, impassioned, and a marvelous storyteller.

Her talk was the 2016 Zeile Lecture on Christian Vocation, which lifts up for high praise many of the virtues that we at Valpo most value in our community: especially the callings of dedicated women and men to lead and serve the remarkable variety of
vocations in the world.

The Zeile lectureship was established by five brothers and sisters—each a Valpo graduate—to honor their parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary several years ago. Both now retired, Janice Zeile was an elementary school teacher, and Louis Zeile a hospital administrator. Christ College is grateful for the commitment they have shown by endowing the Zeile Lecture, and by their many other
expressions of generosity and service.

Valparaiso University’s Institute for Leadership and Service and the Office of the Assistant Provost for Inclusion co-sponsored this event.