News 2012: Former UMass Dartmouth professor, "Alternative Nobel" winner, speaks at University

News 2012: Former UMass Dartmouth professor, "Alternative Nobel" winner, speaks at University
Former UMass Dartmouth professor, "Alternative Nobel" winner, speaks at University

Sharp, "world's foremost expert on nonviolent revolution" cited as influence behind the Arab Spring, popular uprisings in Serbia, Ukraine, Burma and Iran

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Dr. Gene Sharp spoke to students today in an extremely rare public discussion about his work in nonviolence.

Sharp, considered by some a nominee for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, won the 2012 Right Livelihood Award last month. Called the "Alternative Nobel," the Right Livelihood Award recognizes individuals and groups who "define essential conditions for global peace and security."

The only American to receive the Award this year, Sharp was recognized by the Award Jury for his work "developing and articulating the core principles and strategies of nonviolent resistance and supporting their practical implementation in conflict areas around the world."

Speaking as part of the Gandhi Distinguished Speaker Annual Lecture hosted by the University's Center for Indic Studies, "The Spirit of Gandhi is Alive and Well and Living in East Boston," Professor Sharp characterized nonviolence is politically effective, not only morally right.

"There is no universal pattern [for using nonviolence] that you can apply like a blueprint," he said. "People [who use nonviolence] need to think strategically, not just how to express themselves, but how they can act to actually change the situation they're in."

"I can think of no other member of the UMass Dartmouth community who has had the positive and transformative impact that Gene Sharp has had on the world," said Chancellor Divina Grossman. "He sets a unique and extraordinarily powerful example for every citizen, student and faculty member of what scholarship can achieve to advance the cause of justice and unlock human potential."

Sharp has a long association with UMass Dartmouth, including 16 years of service as a professor and Chairman of the Department of Sociology at Southeastern Massachusetts University, and 27 years as professor emeritus.

Sharp left then-SMU to found the Albert Einstein Institution in East Boston, where he has worked for decades to spread the message of his scholarship -- that nonviolence is even more effective than violent means to topple dictatorships and spread democracy.

His most famous work, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, has been read 8 million times. The Albert Einstein Institution sends copies of this, and other of Sharp's books, for free to individuals and social movements all over the world.

Sharp was one of four Right Livelihood Laureates this year, out of 122 nominees submitted from 52 countries. The other awardees include:

· Hayrettin Karaca, considered the grandfather of the Turkish environmental movement.
· Sima Samar, who has risked her life to lead both the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission since 2004 and the Shuhada Organization, which provides education and health care to Afghan women and girls.
· The Campaign Against Arms Trade, an NGO in the United Kingdom that has fought to end British arms exports since 1974.

The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament on December 7, 2012, hosted by the Society for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament. The Award includes a cash prize of €150,000 ($193,000).

More about the Right Livelihood Awards

Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Awards are presented annually in the Swedish Parliament and are often referred to as "Alternative Nobel Prizes." They were introduced "to honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today."

Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German businessman, sold his business to provide the original funding. Since then, the Awards have been financed by individual donors.

Including the newest Awardees, there are 149 Right Livelihood Award Laureates from 62 countries.

For more information, visit

More about UMass Dartmouth

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is a 9500-student public university on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts. Ranked 25th in the nation among master's degree-granting universities by Washington Monthly magazine, UMass Dartmouth exists to connect learning and discovery to the social and economic development of the community and Commonwealth we serve.